Size / / /

Twenty rotations

of this dusty planet—

no one's coming back

to this barren place.

A fixture on the corner

of an abandoned spaceport,

he has a hole in the left knee

of weatherproof pants.

Manet's ragpicker

embodied in shadowed eyes,

a walking stick in hand,

trash by his foot.

His overgrown beard

hides life sorrows

in the way of vagabonds

from inhabited spheres.

A dying world's value

borne in a shoulder sack

with no one else available

to shoulder the load.

Inspired by The Ragpicker by Edouard Manet, oil on canvas 1865, displayed in the Norton Simon Museum, Pasadena, California

Deborah P. Kolodji is the president of the Science Fiction Poetry Association and a member of the Haiku Society of America. Her poetry has appeared in Strange Horizons, Star*Line, Dreams and Nightmares, Illumen, Scifaikuest, Modern Haiku, Frogpond, Simply Haiku, and many other places. She has also published four chapbooks of poetry. You can see more of Deborah's work on her website, or you can contact her at
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