He's waving a plastic pointer, stiff flag enter lot here, parking
at the edge of Lincoln--bright-yellow clown suit with bold ruffles
   and floppy shoes
(the kind with stuffed toes) and from even a short distance he could be
anyone degraded selling what?, he could be, but he is a man,
   clearly Mexican,
underneath the nose that honks, a black mustache, illegal alien? probably.
Like the girls in bikini tops and grass skirts outside casinos in
   Las Vegas,
who say Come get your free lei (colored plastic wrap á la Hawaii), he does
what he's been told to do: on automatic, flag arm ticking like a metronome.

Underneath the painted smile is another expression--harder to place.
The urgency of traffic, who has time to care?
He takes his job seriously. On the way home, reverse route back, 
he's still there waving, a swimmer treading water.

From Buddha Box by Gretchen Mattox. Copyright © 2004 by Gretchen Mattox. Reprinted by permission of New Issues Poetry & Prose. All rights reserved.