“For J.F.” by Mark Mansfield


No one has passed this way or will tonight.
We’ve cut through here at least a hundred times.
Up in the sky, I see the Bowl’s bright lights,
but now the only steps I hear are mine.
Ahead, the HOLLYWOOD’s glowing marquee
mimes titleless above its vanished files
of patrons, as if in a fantasy.
But I am in DC, alone, and miles
and years away from then; and you are dead.
Walking up some icy alleyway
that I had thought was our shortcut from Vine,
I come out by a bright-lit bar on K
as the crowd inside start singing “Auld Lang Syne,”
while through the snow a stranger turns his head.


Mark Mansfield’s work has appeared in Bayou, Blue Mesa Review, Evansville Review, Fourteen Hills, The Innisfree Poetry Journal, Magma, Salt Hill, Scrivener, Tulane Review, Unsplendid, and elsewhere. He holds an M.A. in Writing from Johns Hopkins. Currently, he lives in upstate New York where he teaches.