Busking, Providence • Tina Egnoski

Saxophone moonglint at last-stop bar. Slushy
street on a January night. I have fifteen
minutes before the horn freezes. Open-fingered
wool mittens, shades. The spill of relief: bladder on pavement
and bills in my open case. I breathe exhaust and beer and starry
night questions. Woman with a black eye holds
up two fingers: peace or can I bum a smoke? My own composition
chases the woozy jazzy blues, Marlborosticks
safe in pocket.

Closing up, an Asian man hands me a scribbled
card as payment. Spiritual advice doesn’t pay rent.
Take and shove your John 3:16, your Do Unto Others,
your Dongbang 15 mm needles. Your pressure
points, charkas, tourmaline, calendula, kripalu, Stairmaster,
macrobiotics, biorhythms, ten steps, MBAspeak, numerology,
Your fortune cookies, Feng Shui, Tao of Pooh, big
bang theory, sushi bar. Your Follow Your Bliss.
Your Om. Your poetry slam your dot.com your
weblog your neighborhood crime watch your I
Ching your whistleblower support
group your Atkins prayer mat spinning class
backgammon lust and empty nest syndrome.

Brickknocks, wallknocks, someone’s head hits
the sidewalk. Innocent bystander becomes
witness. Cops shoo us like kittens, kids. Two-fifteen
and I gross seventy-five and a Chinese puzzle.
Cosmic joke, it reads: chicken or egg?


Egnoski's work has appeared in a number of literary journals, 
including Backwards City Review, Cimarron Review, Folio and 
Louisville Review. She is also the author of two books, 
In the Time of the Feast of Flowers (Texas Review Press, 
2012) and Perishables (Black Lawrence Press, 2010).