Tim Vrtiska CC
Elegy for Hustle-man
for James William Griffin
There was no handshake, no, I’m James –
folks call me Hustle-man. Bucket in-hand,
you skipped all that, and car-washed your way
to pocket-money. And hard as you worked,
folks offered you jobs, even places to stay
to get it together. But they never quite got you
that you preferred sleeping rough, how you
thrived on the hustle: scrounging and hauling
your way to becoming a neighborhood fixture.
And even though it’s been a couple years since
the cops found you gunshot, I still hear you
scold me every time I make a sandwich:
Aw, come on, man, don’t scrimp on the mayo.
I miss that voice, all the nights it crooned
the Pointer Sisters’ “Fire” block by block.
But the main thing, what I’ll never forget
is what you taught me about dignity, James.
Even when I blew you off, had nothing to haul,
or didn’t buy your latest dumpster find, you’d
refuse my apologies, silence me with a quick
side-eye, and say: God never made anything sorry.
Hailing from Eugene Walter's Kingdom of Monkeys, John Miller was sent so frequently to look up words during supper, he toted a dictionary to the table. Paper Nautilus Press published his chapbook, _Heat Lightning_ in 2017. A Pushcart nominee, Miller’s poetry has appeared in Rockvale Review, Kindred, Lahar Berlin, and elsewhere.
Write something about yourself. No need to be fancy, just an overview.