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MacQueen’s Quinterly: Knock-your-socks-off Art and Literature
Issue 11: January 2022
Poem: 204 words
By Brian Yapko

The Man Who Floated

that shade of a man entering the 
room, taking a folding chair across 
from me, his history under his scarred 
bare feet, a lifetime under the bridge 

in the stains on what remains of his 
tattered thrift-store shirt. his universe 
is so narrow and so vast, the stars sleep 
over him, the mud of last night’s rain 

blankets him. should i approach and 
ask when he ate last? fear gets the best 
of me, i tell myself he is o.k with 
free coffee and oreos the snack person 

brought, but i’m ashamed. i walk over 
and hand him a dollar. he has a cataract 
in one eye, his hands shake, he smiles, 
he is missing his two front teeth. 

i see my own reflection in his face, 
my mistakes, what could have been 
if... yet this man does not walk heavy 
as if the weight of the world 

straddled his hunched shoulders. 
no, he eases into this room full 
of people who have hit their bottom. 
he neither strides nor hobbles, 

he floats in. the expression on his 
face does not say desperate or insane, 
it says peace and surrender. it says 
the ineffable willingness to be helped. 


Brian Yapko
Issue 11, January 2022

is a lawyer whose poems have appeared in Prometheus Dreaming, Gyroscope, Tofu Ink, KAIROS Lit. Journal, K’in, Grand Little Things, Society of Classical Poets, Cagibi, Seventh Circle, Poetica, Chained Muse, Garfield Lake Review, Tempered Runes Press, Abstract Elephant, and others. He lives in Santa Fe, New Mexico.

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