Friday Night at the Crossroads

On the corner of the plaza, a saxophonist plays
seamless snippets of songs -
the Pink Panther theme,
In the Mood …
& that love ballad of a forgotten name

At the sidewalk cafés, friends greet casual
encounters with smiles & kisses on either cheek,
order sparkling water, another wine.
The street kids go table to table, hastily offering
small nonsense cards for donations.
A woman hurriedly clears her fries
& left-over burger onto a napkin
before the waiter looks that way.
A German reads the menu, dictionary in hand,
his beer sweating in this 32º evening.

When the light turns red, two women stand
across the road, holding a banner:
           It doesn’t matter with whom
or how, always with Forro condoms.

On another corner, rasta youth begin a beat clapping,
then thump drums down the street ….

At the opposite light, a couple joins the scene:
           HIV / AIDS is everybody’s thing – Be sure you
don’t have it – Take the test.
A man gifts rubbers to stopped cars, to
pedestrians, to the patrons of these sidewalk cafés.
Another set begins: In the Mood,
the Pink Panther, & that ….

By ten o’clock, the bannerists & saxophonist have left.
Yet remain the sidewalk café crowd.

Lorraine Caputo