The Drunk’s Protector

I was nineteen, full of life,
student, musician, believer
and happened upon 
A wall flower, sodden but sweet,
A drunk, full of his nectar.
 
A peaceful drunk
Leaning upon a concrete wall 
Near the overused metaphor of a 
Greyhound Bus station.
Of a bus stop occupied
By the rushing middle class.
Of a city overcoming change.
 
A drunk, a target of easy mark
Was found by another mark,
A pointed mark.
Perhaps needing ease from his demons.
The voices listened and 
He took a knife, leaned, put it 
On the old man's neck.
Close enough to shave.

The audience breathed drama,
Turning slowly, waiting for buses.
Standing full of wisdom
As far as they could go. 
Time froze.
They were mannequins.

Needs,
Simply a phone in need of quarters,
An operator call,  
But locked into movie reviews,newspapers,work,
They were motionless. 

I was nineteen then. 
Full of life, a 1945 wooden case 
that protected my heart, 
Holding my horn.
My weapon of choice.

After years, why a decade of years,
Of playing, of lugging miles, building brass muscles,
Of practice at spinning, 
I launched myself  
Pushing my horn between the two.

I was a shield maiden,
Because I was nineteen, descended
From blonde Vikings and grim Scots, 
I became a piper of sound
With the bottom of my lungs. 

Somehow, instantly, incredibly,
Unsummoned, the infantry arrived.
A squad car, blinking red,
Drove up upon the curb.
Collared the knife, the shield maiden,
Slipped the men apart.

I was nineteen, set to
Activism, driven in hopes to 
Change poverty, racism, anger, hate. 
The men in blue sent me on my way, 
Part fool, part human. Head patted.
Reform suggested for my safety,
After all, I was nineteen.

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