Beggars and Begging

by Deborah H. Doolittle

We praise the dog when it raises
its paw.  Laugh out loud when its
lolling tongue belies the earnest
effort of his concentration.

On the streets, we strategically
place our feet, avoid the vaguely
unfocused gaze directed in
our direction.  Ignore the hand,

held open like a cup.  The tin
cup positioned on the pavement
could be a wishing well, could be
the next fountain of good fortune.

Funny how the once colorful
clothes have faded to dingy gray,
their silhouettes blend with the stone
and concrete steps, how light itself

bends around them as if they were
not even there, until the dog
licks the outstretched hand that
doesn’t feed him.  And then we laugh
at ourselves, drop the dollar in.


Deborah H. Doolittle has lived in lots of different places, but now calls North Carolina home. She is the author of two chapbooks, No Crazy Notions (Birch Brook Press) and That Echo (Longleaf Press), and one full-length collection, Floribunda (Main Street Rag Publishing Co.) Some of her poems have recently appeared (or will soon appear) in Comstock Review, Evening Street Review, Pinyon Review, Rattle, Ravensperch, Slant, The Stand, and in audio format on The Writer’s Almanac.



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