Watching the Street Performers

The indigent man next to me
frowns at my cell phone.
I’m taking a picture, I explain.
Use your eyes, he says.

Ever since, his phrase
has tumbled through my head
like last night’s dream.
Part of me considers it prophecy.

Surely I would remember
sitting on a cold bench with my mom
after her sister’s funeral,
our black skirts flimsy in the wind,

without a tiny picture of the women
before us with wooden flutes.

Another part of me thinks this man,
too, would record any lucky moment,
set his eyes upon it again and again,
if only he had money for film.



This poem can also be found in While the Kettle’s On (Little Balkans Press, 2015), a collection of poems by Melissa Fite Johnson.



About the Poet:
Melissa Fite Johnson’s first collection, While the Kettle’s On (Little Balkans Press, 2015), won the Nelson Poetry Book Award and is a Kansas Notable Book.  Her poems have appeared in Valparaiso Poetry Review, Broadsided Press, The New Verse News, Midwest Quarterly, velvet-tail, and elsewhere.  Melissa teaches English and lives with her husband in Kansas.  Feel free to connect with her at


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