i followed from a distance
as she gathered cigarette butts
and paper napkins

the haze of yellowed streetlights
reflected onto her teeth
when she smiled
through shattered memories

her purple tufted coat
was more than she needed
and less than she wanted
on cement or sand

i hated my tears
when i watched her
and yet i knew she would kiss them
if kisses were meant for a prince

i had become a pauper
in the presence of this midnight dancer
poking at empty pockets
where frayed cloth replaced pennies

when she sat against bricks and stones
she wept
wondering why the promises of yesterday
were dropped into a red salvation army kettle

on a bitter december day
and salvation was non-refundable
leaving her with only cigarette butts
and napkins to unfurl before a king