The Encounter

by Mel Glenn (Brooklyn, NY)

In the middle of Times Square, he approached me,
a bit hesitatingly, looking more like
a tourist than a native New Yorker.
I thought he was going to ask for directions.
“Are you Jewish?” he said.
Do I look Jewish?
I paused, then nodded.
What did he want? Money?
“Let me tell you something,” he said.
I looked away, anxious to get rid of him.
Did I need to hear his philosophy? Who was he?
“Let me tell you my impressions of New York.”
I don’t have time for this.
“I’m from Tel Aviv and the two cities are quite …..”
“Excuse me,” I said, “but my wife is waiting and….”
“But, only a minute; let me tell ….….”
I gathered my wife nearby and we walked away.
“You should have listened to him,” she said,
at least for a while. He was just lonely.”
She was right. I looked back, but the man was gone.
I had missed everything, tone, intent, need to talk,
and had squandered a chance to ease the pain of loneliness
of a stranger in the city, my city.

The author of twelve books for young adults, Mel Glenn has lived nearly all his life in Brooklyn, NY, where he taught English at A. Lincoln High School for thirty-one years.  Lately, he’s been writing poetry, and you can find his most recent poems in the YA anthology, This Family Is Driving Me Crazy,  edited by M. Jerry Weiss.

If you’d like to learn more about his work, visit:

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Filed under American Jewry, Jewish identity, poetry

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