BOOTSTRAPS


Snowball truck two blocks away.
Bells plink and chime Joplin’s Entertainer.
No one stirs. A coastal December,
72° and humid. The grizzled terrier two houses down
yaps at my nerves. Fleshes out a lagniappe
dream of tenderloin and strychnine.

 

This afternoon I ambled along the iron
rails and wooden planks of the trestle
until I came upon two girls and a boy,
tinsel plaited and ashened, searching for cans.
Three angular vultures finding sustenance
amid decay. I slumped and sat
near tears, cursing and chunking stones.

 

This morning we attended a drug bust
before sunrise service. Visited with a few folks
I hadn’t thought to think of since
junior high. Got word on boys
I made out with once but now wouldn’t even
claim and the girl who knifed
my cousin dead over hearsay.
I didn’t recognize the belles
who had swollen up from babies,
bad marriages and the like.
I heard tell of the best and brightest
committing suicide or leaving home.
No intention of return.

 

My elders secretly hope for flood and fire,
a chance to rebuild rundown galleries
in their golden years. Those my age
work the docks or keep a sugar daddy
between stints in jail. Last night
one of my second cousins shot a man in the back
of the head. Most everybody says
he was on that stuff, had gone on a tear,
I ain’t stupid enough to ask why.