The last seed vendor has gone
(salt’s taste slips with the light) —
now, casual as filtered smoke,
he lingers on the esplanade
beside his cartload of classics:
books printed on anaemic paper
reincarnated from magazines.
He’s never read a work of fiction
(gypsies live solely on facts),
but he knows the human mind:
a thought crawls across the brow
long before scrawling the page —
the lines on the author’s face
tell him what’s going to sell.
Set for his defence, Kafka strains
to steps blackening the concrete.
Arms on his chest, Hemingway
confronts the wall-butting sea.
Pale beneath the twitching light,
fingers crossed on his knees,
Dostoyevsky awaits the Apocalypse.
Monocled, the moon comes to browse,
the breeze flicks inquisitively,
a soul-white sailor hopes to find
a cure for insomnia. He hawks
their words for tomorrow’s bread —
the symbols tattooed on his hands
are the only alphabet he needs.