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My friend, Antonio,
greets me
with a salute and a bow
(it’s his way).
I am very glad to see him
and very honored.

I don’t see him very often,
he has his own schedule,
not necessarily
corresponding with mine.
He is a free spirit.

Through dark glasses
he sees the world
(so not to offend).
He is very conscious
that his appearance
may cause concern.
He wears a beard,
his clothes are ragged,
all his belongings
follow him
in a shopping cart.

He feels uncomfortable
in enclosed spaces,
so he sleeps outdoors,
summer and winter,
on a park bench
(with his friends
the squirrels),
when temperatures
are well below freezing.

He is not immune
from assault,
beatings
(having his teeth kicked out),
not because of what he does,
but what he is,
how he appears.

I usually see him
in front of the library,
one of his favorite places.
He likes to look at books
and see pictures
of kings and other people
he has studied
in school.

Occasionally,
he joins me for coffee.
He tells me
the most wondrous stories.
Sometimes,
I think he makes them up
for my benefit.
In any case
I am honored.

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