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

But NO!

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

WALK.

DON‘T WALK.

 

  1. St.V. Beechey.” March 1972.