May 28, 2024

Seasons of a street-corner man – a prose poem by Jack Peachum


(for Horace)
Early morning finds me already on my corner– and I do not stroll away. I cling to my lamp-post as tightly as

some men cleave to their wives and girlfriends or even to their wallets.

How brightly the sun shines on the windows in spring! I love the play of light on sides of buildings– how it

bathes cab and bus and car– how it frames the face of a lovely woman in passing – fresh and– perhaps– still

slightly damp from her bath! A bit over-dressed on her way to work – or to meet a man! If I desire to know you

at this moment, my dear, it is because I wish to glimpse and remember in you all the women I’ve ever loved.

Ah, why did we part, my sweet?

In summer one recalls childhood– indolent summer mornings out of school, buzz of insects in a park across the

road– I love the look of the corner café on a summer day– the smell of brewing coffee is a message carried on the warm air.

Once, I detected the aroma of someone roasting peanuts!

The Autumn brings a cool breeze and cleansing wind to the street– sweeps away dirt, the debris of yesterday’s

passing shoes– cancels the memory of old failures, of sadness and death– and brings with it the melancholy

yearning that is the best and worst of life itself.

In Fall we remember the fallen– and praise God that our time’s not yet come round– we have still before us this

morning, this noon– the prospect of a fine autumn evening.

Oh but winter–what a terrible season! Curbs covered with snow and ice– windswept blocks stretching out street

after street under a leaden sky– then I wish only to hibernate! No, not a likeable season to me– how could it be?–

the rain and cold drive me inside, contact of self-to -self begins.

I don’t wish to visit myself– if I could leave town without my knowing, I’d do so at once! I would only come

back when I was certain I was gone!

Sometimes, along the street– in season and out– rises before me one of those dirty shambling homeless creatures

that society wishes to forget. I may know him or not– but if I dared look at him– into his eyes– I might see–

what’s this?– my own reflection! If he spoke to me, the earth itself would crack open before I could answer– so,

I lower my head and let him go by me silently.


by Jack Peachum