In the Heart of the City

A man yells into the boulevard,

The cadence of a type-writer,

Words shot in short, rapid, bursts,

Crushed by bus tires,

Rusty brake pad responses.

From the blackness of missing front teeth,

A man peddles pills to passersby.

Little blue rubies roll in a dirty hand,

A twenty year old, looks twenty years older

hawking twenty dollar rubies.

The number lost its T’s just as

its speaker lost his teeth.

Legal smack sold to get illegal skag.

Follow the blue poppers

to find the tracks on hands and arms,

A path of blissful self-destruction.

Station platform:

Tiles drawn by children,

Laminated by men in reflective orange vests,

Scratched by the wooden soles of

plump, well groomed men.

Rolling suitcase, wheels bent out,

Bow-legged and haggard,

Bungie cord intestines bulge

As they criss-cross a ripped abdomen.

Sweater with sleeves cut off,

Paint stained cargo shorts,

Margaritaville Dress shirt,

Burnt auburn beaded blouse,

Rubber jelly flip flop, thong pulled through,

Poured out and dragging.

A humble hobble precedes

the herniated suitcase.

A pristine Nike, right,

Two dirty socks, left,

Big toe, cracked nail, pushed through.

A child painted a sun with a smile,

The reflective orange vest put it next to a

three legged dog,

The plump men supplicate to cell phones,

Distracting themselves with instant-order coffee.

Double shot Vanilla latte with Soy.

Five dollar stained teeth,

Three hundred dollar home whitening kit.

From a graffiti etched bench

Come the tenacious words of a feeble toddler:

“That bag is hurt!

It’s all tored up!

Do you see!?”

A bundle sleeps in the corner-front of a store,

Windows dark and reflective, empty.

The bundle shakes out a little life

From under a leaking goose-down blanket.

Once gilded letters laid in the corner walk up

Thrifty – Drugstore

Memories of Ice Cream cones,

Pink checkered paper hats,

Smiles and sticky hands.

And then it all slips away,

A soft, ruffled, goose-feather on the wind.

A paper-skinned man stares at a tree,

Sounding alive with baby birds.

Blank eyed, crooked backed, cat circled feet,

He mumbles to the birds in Tagalog.

A bird is pushed from the nest,

The chorus sings a slow fall,

The cat licks its lips.

The line is ended, unexpected.

The Sheriff’s bus leaves Men’s Central,

Three strikes to the Courthouse.

Men sit in jumpsuits,

All adorable in barcoded plastic bracelets.

The chain links of handcuffs are passed through

Long, clean finger nails, pink and white,

Praying the Rosary.

Hand-cuff cuff-links.

An old woman waits at the bus stop,

Ashy skin flaking onto a tight dress,

Pulled over a small shrinking body.

She waits today just as she did yesterday,

An oily head wrap holding up once intentional dreads,

Legs crossed, left hand painting right finger nails,

Lacquered so thick they bow outward.

In rings around her, others wait for the bus,

One that will actually come, One they will actually ride.

They breath heavily through their mouths as they

Brace their noses against embarrassment.

Fried dough sold off a cookie sheet

Wedged in a baby stroller.

Tapatio slipped into the baby bottle pouch,

Plastic catering tongs, sugar-crusted,

Looped over the rubber grip-stripped handle

of the dilapidated perambulator.

Baby sits on the stoop behind the cart,

bare-diaper on red-paint, molded concrete.

Superhero t-shirt, oversized, like a dress,

Wispy hair waves to the passing bus.

Passengers turn to potential customers

Before this Rugrat, learning the trade.

Below the typewriter voice,

Across town from the bungie cord intestines,

In front of the dilapidated perambulator,

Out of the singing tree,

Unleashed from chain-link Rosaries,

Near memories of gilded letters,

Beside the blue rubies,

A Silent Subway station hosts a strange guest:

A fertile, white, fist-sized pollen spore,

floating above the tracks.

All waving arms and a dancing body,

The thing is alive,

Defying the concrete burial vault.

It lives suspended, a moment of beauty,

A shimmering calm before the chaos.

There’s no thought of the train,

No concern for the weight of fertile wisp,

For now, all is focused and made right

On that spindle arm, a miraculous anomaly,

In the heart of the city.

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2 thoughts on “In the Heart of the City

  1. “Praying the Rosary.

    Hand-cuff cuff-links.”

    This line says so much in so little. This is AMAZING! I love all of the alliterations, I felt very omniscient (almost like in enter the void, drifting through stories like a ghost.)

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