A Stranger I Know, Bill Jansen

golden-poppiesGolden Poppies, Romona Youngquist, 12 X 12, Oil

A Stranger I Know


I would like a small, easily concealed device
that has the ability to convert complete strangers
into friends you have not seen for decades.

Not since grade school, high school, college;
those curiously missed years in the military.

Then when the pleasure of sitting alone
outside a Forest Grove sports bar in winter
turns into another cancerous drag,
reach into my plus fours’ pocket,
take out the device and aim at passerby.

Surprised, people recognize me,
borrow chairs from other tables,
begin to express in several languages
their incomprehensible joy
at this serendipitous reunion.

Sometimes they act like the total fools
I always suspected that they were,
others shrink into a silent awe
before my gravitas and worldly mien.

However it goes, it can never go too long,
never get too close to the reality
that has placed me permanently
at this table outside a cheap dive.

I flick a switch. That’s enough for today.
They find themselves with a complete stranger,
at a place they would never dream of being.
A place in fact they had never noticed before.

Bill Jansen

Scroll to Top