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The Kiss
by Keith Holyoak


A roaring highway disconnects
The sandy beach from a bus-stop bench,
Golden youth in springtime flower
From sidewalks home to wasted men:
There ocean air, here city stench;
There sun-bronzed bodies, here old wrecks
Whose luck ran out when pain began
To soak right through each waking hour.

A tunnel burrowing underground
Connects the beach to cityside.
A vagrant sits, all vacant stare,
Waits for a bus—to where, who knows?
Their beach-day done, two lovers glide
From out the tunnel, arms wound round
Each other’s waist. The girl’s face glows —
Her boyfriend stoops to kiss her there.

His lips seek hers—she suddenly
Breaks free, turns, runs to the homeless one
To stroke his rough gray-whiskered cheek,
To press her lips on his in a kiss.
She slips away like the setting sun —
Just gone, with no apology.
The old man weighs his glimpse of bliss
Against a pain he did not seek.


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