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The cab driver shakes his head
when I look in his direction.
He’s not free.

I ask a passerby.
Which direction is uptown?
A few foreign words spill from her lips.
She probably thinks 
I’m asking for change.

It’s starting to rain a little.
I curse myself for leaving my umbrella
in the hotel room.

The traffic is loud and loathsome,
none of it going my way.
The taste of the morning’s coffee,
straight from the La Brea tar pits,
is still on my tongue.
I despise not knowing where I am.

Then some guy jumps in front of me,
opens his jacket to expose
a full line of fake Rolex watches.
I step around him 
like a running back with fancy footwork.
That’s an excuse for the rain
to come down that much harder.

I have my camera with me.
A snapshot of the downpour
is just the thing to show the folks back home.
Or why not a closeup of pigeons
splashing in a puddle.
Nothing says "Wish you were here" 
like a flock of rock doves.

Maybe there is no uptown.
The city is wherever I am.
It’s noisy, foreign, unfriendly.
Even the birdlife.
I seek shelter under the nearest awning.
Here at last.

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About the author:

John Grey

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John Grey is an Australian poet, US resident. Recently published in the Homestead Review, Poetry East and Columbia Review with work upcoming in Harpur Palate, the Hawaii Review and North Dakota Quarterly.