Gypsy Scholar

When I arrive early, he blinks,
Checks his watch; his idea of being host
Is to ply the guest with a drink.
He pours us both a double, spikes the roast.

With sprigs of frgrant thyme, fires
Up the potatoes and yellow peppers.
Outside the dirty windows, the gothic spires
Of Oxford poke the gray underbelly of sky.

"Standard English fare," he grins,
"A joint and two veg." The missing teeth belie
Long years as impoverished academic leper,
The ragged sweater, even his hair thins

As I watch. He taps cigar ash
Into an empty glass, explains in slow
Belabored tones his exasperated dreams,
The promise of his dissertation, how

His ideas will set the world on fire, cash
Flood his way, recognition, fame,
And all the rest. "All this brilliance," he pleads,

"Can't go to waste; the years
Of patient study, the books, the weeds
Instead of flowers..." Finally, the roast, smeared
With mango chutney, tastes dry as bone.

Tom Miner