Destiny, perhaps, or just good luck
took the yellow light to red and brought me
to a stop at the corner of Ocean Park and 23rd.
At first, I thought what I heard was coming
from another car—the usual hip-hop rap.
But then I saw him at the curb, talking to
the meter in front of the laundromat.
So I pulled over just to be sure he wasn’t
another cell phone exhibitionist bore.
No, this was a stifled soul, an undermined heart
with something to say. It’s no secret there’s
enough to rant about these days and so few
ears truly listening. So I tried to listen
or at least overhear, mindful of times I’ve grilled
ghosts of my own with no one else there.
But his voice was garbled by traffic noise.
From his face I had to make my best guess.
My own stifled soul saw a man on a mission
for all of us, asking, How much time is left?

(first published in Boulevard)