Universal empathy scam

Delphine Lecompte

She's sitting on the pavement
braiding straw elephants
for overfed tourist
yellow from latent tuberculosis
and sleep deprivation
she puts all of her anger
in their rough hides
they're buying endlessly senselessly.

I turn the television off
outside bored alcoholics linger
they push and topple
the concrete mixer
bovine in its austere sincerity.

My lover is ironing my favorite blouse
I tell him what I'm witnessing
I describe the congealed specks
on the alcoholics' garments
the concrete mixer on the dirty ground
as it comes down
the iron hisses
in some kind of universal appliance empathy.