"Poetry is thoughts that breathe, and words that burn." ~Thomas Gray

"Poetry unites." ~Anon

"Truth is such a rare thing, it is delightful to tell it." ~Emily Dickinson


Written by Martín Espada
He lives in Amherst, Massachusetts, USA
His website: Martin Espada

The poem was originally published, and appears in his book,
Imagine the Angels of Bread, (W.W. Norton, 1996)

Four Sandwiches

—Washington, D.C.

JC was called the Rack
at the work farm,
aluminum milk pails
dangling from his hands.
Once a sudden fist
crushed the cartilage of nose
across his face,
but JC only grinned,
and the man with the fist
stumbled away.

JC sings his work farm songs on the street,
swaying with black overcoat and guitar,
cigarettes cheaper than food.
But today he promises
four sandwiches, two for each of us.

The landlady, a Rumanian widow,
has nailed a death mask
over JC’s bed,
sleeping plaster face
of a drowned girl
peaceful in the dark.

As the girl contemplates water
and pigeons batter the window,
JC spreads the last deviled ham
on two slices of bread,
presses them together,
then slowly tears four pieces.

“Here,” he almost sings,
“four sandwiches.”

Posted with consent of the writer.

4 Comments:

  1. WHY? said...
    I love that there is not one word of sentimentality or judgement uttered about JC. Just a pure telling of this man. If only I could find more books written like this!
    K.Lawson Gilbert said...
    Great gutsy work...Loved all the imagery.
    Love For Life said...
    Wonderful how this man is portrayed in this poem. He comes alive as though you've already met him walking down a sidewalk in the roughest part of town.

    -Once a sudden fist
    crushed the cartilage of nose
    across his face,
    but JC only grinned,
    and the man with the fist
    stumbled away.-
    joaquin carvel said...
    this is fantastic. i want to drink two beers with him.

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