Owner of a lonely heart . . . He leans against the building across from the train stop downtown. It seems like the kind of outburst street people sometimes make. Owner of a lonely heart Then I catch the syncopation. Wires from ear buds loop down his saggy t-shirt, disappear in a pants pocket. Owner of a lonely heart, so much better than a broken heart he chants aloud and loudly without tune or intonation. He looks straight ahead. I gaze down the tracks, then up at the treetops. He slides into a verse. I can’t make out words, only uncertain syllables. uh-duh-uh-huh-huh-fuhm-shuh-uh-hum Maybe he doesn’t know the words. It can’t help that he’s missing teeth. Owner of a lonely heart I am on the station platform, the tracks between us. Several people stand or sit here, waiting. We don’t really look at him. We don’t really look at each other either, just like when we’re on the train. Owner of a lonely heart I wonder if he knows how loud he is. I glance again. A heavy-set man, greasy gray hair parted down the middle almost shoulder length. Maybe 50-something? so hard to tell. He seems to stare right at me though who knows what he sees. So much better than a broken heart A newcomer to the platform, businesswoman, turns his way, then settles against a stanchion. He leans on his wall. I sit on my bench. The train moving slowly through town is just a few blocks away now, the man, like me, waiting for time to pass, waiting for the next refrain.

Sally Ashton is the author of Some Odd Afternoon, Her Name Is JuanitaThese Metallic Days, and a new hybrid collection, Behaviour of Clocks. She is Editor-in-Chief of DMQ Review, an online journal featuring poetry and art. Recent work has appeared or is forthcoming in ZyzzyvaDrunken BoatPoet Lore, and Fish Anthology: First Prize Fish Flash Fiction. She teaches at San José State University.