Ben Sloan: When the Light Changes

Ben Sloan: When the Light Changes

The Bowery at Delancey


I step into the street when the light changes,

observing at the same time on the opposite corner

my counterparts who have begun to march

briskly en masse towards some real or imagined

destination, and my eyes settle on one man.

Instead of stepping off the curb, he begins to tilt


forward, in slow motion, stiff, as if the stick holding up

his clothes has broken at the base. The beatific look

on his face suggests a conscious separation from

the surrounding mob scrambling up one intersection

and down another like so many rungs on a ladder.

It is all foolishness so he removes himself from it.


I am just a few feet from him when I realize he is not

putting out, will not put out, cannot put out his hands to

catch himself. The crunch I hear is his teeth shattering

against the pavement. A man passing by says to me,

Forget it kid. There is nothing anyone could have done.

He was dead when he started falling.

Ben Sloan currently lives in Charlottesville and teaches at Piedmont Virginia Community College, the Fluvanna Correctional Center for Women, and the Buckingham Correctional Center. Sloan’s poems have appeared in such publications as the Hartskill Review, Off the Coast, Rabbit Catastrophe Review, the Ozone Park JournalThe Tishman Review, and The Saint Ann’s Review. The Road Home, a chapbook-size collection of Sloan’s poetry, is available from Thirty West Publishing House.