the last song on the third album –
A gemstone found on a beggar’s mat
somewhere between 107th and 110th & Broadway.
There were other gems for sale – Gucci
handbags tossed off trucks, metal circles sprayed
with dazzle, dented lamp shades, candles
burned half-way down, and a pair of
roller skates with one yellow lace and one red.
Propped on a vase of yellow silk flowers leaned
Joni, rubbed thin at the spine. She had a rip
on the right-hand corner of her wilted sleeve, and
the outline of her face showed through
like it had been traced over and over with an eraser.
I gave a dollar without hearing her sing a single song.
Ten songs on two albums crackling into
my soul and skin. The butterflies wake early
as I sit sipping a brewed pot,
breathing in the bricked-in view – rapt
with the imperfection of a woman I’ve never met.