The January Smokers

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The January smokers
Huddle coatless in the courtyard
Between tall buildings.
The distant sun
reaches for them valiantly,
But its pale, thin fingers
Just touch the wall
A pigeon's hop
Above their heads.

The day seems calm, but
Matches flare and die unused, so
Cold cupped hands and butane
Perform the rituals.

Chatting quietly, doing secret business,
Shivering and far from still—
How on earth do they expect
Those tiny little fires
To keep them warm?
January 5, 1995