A YOUNG GIRL IN A SHACK
Your boundaries are all around you
from the broken planks of the kitchen floor
to the nails, many times driven up from below.
Cradling a cross in a mongrel bed,
with a dog the color of murky dusk,
nibbling on anything-will-do food
with only a scar on your wrist for guidance,
no longer thinking up excuses to love someone again.
Parents thrown together without inspiration,
on some street named for a cure for constipation,
rough as the switch leaning against the wall,
learning the lingo of frog croak.
Wind through cracked window,
fierce as the eyes of some old wretch
trying to pick up children in the park,
and unintentionally critical
like everything that touches you,
even those undisciplined hands.
Snake slid in here once, you remember,
a wake-up call for someone who didn’t sleep so well anyhow –
it didn’t bite –
not a snake anyhow,
just some man who said he was your uncle.
2. A.M., BARS CLOSED
My buds have taste memory.
That’s why they’ve not moved on
At least, the weather’s in the now,
even if its only wind
I stand here,
snarled in dampness,
hair a thick brown puddle.
Drops penetrate my lips.
I can taste myself.
She’s not here.
No arms caress me.
My ears are whisper-less.
It’s up to the booze
the weather to embody.
And the rain keeps falling,
dares me to do the same.
But my hand is raised.
I’m looking for a taxi.
If one stops,
surely it will take me
I live in hope.
Maybe it can drive me there.
I stand in the shadow of the city.
Its silhouette pats my head.
Around me, stalls and pushcarts
sell the wares I smell.
It’s almost dusk.
The choicest of the choice are gone.
The rest have been picked over.
What’s not green is red or yellow.
But for the fish,
their gray scales topped with ice,
forlorn faces gazing up
at the darkening sky.
For five bucks, I have myself
a box of mangoes,
immigrants far from their homeland,
a taste of the tropics in Boston.
The vendors are packing up.
Customers drift away.
Nearby, Quincey Market
is about to shake off its history,
A desire for something fresh
vacates the shuttered stands,
is taken up by bars and restaurants.