Tuesday’s Picture: Playing for Food

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Sometimes I sit at the community piano downtown

that’s set up in the middle of a busy brick sidewalk,

and make believe I’m Billy Joel playing, singing

some nostalgic tune that’s in everybody’s heart.

I play for the tips as the crowd shuffles by,

tapping the white and black ivory for everyone but me,

blocking out the things that have gone wrong,

the voices in my head that whisper and accuse.

I keep playing until it gets dark, until the black crows

stop cawing and scatter from the branches of the trees,

until the lights go out and no one’s left walking the street.

I flex my cramped fingers, pull the fallboard over the keys,

count the dollars and loose change in the cigar box

and roll myself back down the street into the night.

 

 

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