Last night an ancient one, barely able to walk

shuffled across the wet sidewalk

to the front door of Nightwatch.

His cab ride was paid for

by an exasperated hospital social worker.

The hospital didn’t want him.

The shelters are all full.

The boarding house with cheap rent is torn down.

He has no friend to call.

No loving wife or sister or daughter

with a couch, for a night or two.

He has only

the gray-wool blanket

given to Seattle’s phantoms.

His sick bed is the sidewalk outside my door.

gomer: Medical slang “Get Out Of My Emergency Room.”

In the morning, I checked to see how old this old guy was. His birthday is the day after mine. He will be 64 this spring.