you fight to keep your eyes fastened
to a door that doesn’t open
into alley puddles filled
with broken glass and barefoot children
and narrow streets strung with dirty sneakers
dangling from telephone lines
sagging over nailed-shut windows
the frightened like to hide behind.
half a smile and
you’re cool as the mile
you’re sliding across
one soot black wink and
you’re dark as the ink
you’re hiding in
and too proud to ask for directions.
there’s a current running through you
like cold rain on a live wire.
your eyes are dirty gems without the fire.
you’re cheap and chipped l
like something slipped off a pawn shop shelf
then got glued together by a blind man.
another flat pocket pick pocket
sidewalking freak show
who doesn't recognize the songs
playing on the radio.
you line the soles of your shoes
with the same old news
papers that find you wherever you go.
your pilot light is lit
but it’s dangerously low.
blowing around with yesterday’s litter
washing down crumbs
with something hot and bitter
you're barely warm
in someone’s else’s clothes.
and you haven’t had a thing to eat in weeks
it drags along the hollows of your cheeks
sharp and unforgiving places
ransacked bare and empty spaces
growing deeper steeped in the cold
you spend your time catching
on someone else’s dime
the phantom itch you’re scratching
the borrowed walls you’re trying to climb
but the cracks are never wide enough to hide in
or deep enough to fall through
so you make a smooth highway of moving on
to another town you’ll never know
and try to un-fasten every place you’ve been
from any place you’ll ever go.
© 2010 susan beck
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