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He knew shortcuts through

the most obscure parts of town,

conjured a soup kitchen

with some radar knowledge.

A corner store for wine

where if you took your own bottle

you could serve yourself.

He told me of his previous life

of criminals and art therapy.

We met by chance on the metro

in Rome, months later

then travelled north to Lucca.

Slept along red walls

and his pavement sketches

kept us in pizza.

A bar with a sour old woman

was our regular shelter

where the husband filled glasses

when she wasn’t looking.

I saw him last as I boarded a train,

Rasputin hair and beard;

the strange arc of his nomad story,

a scribbled address

on a scrap of good intention.

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