He sat there
Obese and benign on a tiny stool
Positioned with care near the intersection
And he settled himself
Arranging his rags – setting up the cardboard sign
Beginning his ritual
Conducting the traffic lights.
He limbered up with a snap of the fingers
And GREEN became RED.
He smiled and nodded – and a sign flashed WALK
And with his lordly wave
The pedestrians surged forward.
The finger raised – and STOP.
RED – GREEN
GREEN – RED.
Settling down now into the rhythmic swing
Unnoticed by the morning throng
Save, perhaps, for those who knew
And smilingly approved
And children who laughed in wonder and believed
Bringing a smile to the tired eyes.
A glimpse of blue
And warm anticipation filled him
NO! NO! NO! NO! NO!
It wasn’t Pete
It was the New Policemen
An abrupt end to the dance – OH NO! OH NO!
And he shuffled quickly off
Clutching his stool
While a great police boot kicked the sign into the gutter
“Blasphemous ould divil!”
And the old man heard as he fled
And tears filled his eyes
And he permitted it to rain
Blurring the letters on the sign
‘ATTENTION – GOD AT WORK’
The cop directed traffic in the rain
And the fickle lights flashed to his command.
RED – GREEN – RED
- St.V. Beechey.” March 1972.