The Coffee House on Cherry Street

 

Black breeze pulls strangers’ marijuana smoke

Between deck splinters, up our nauseous noses;

Night brings to Cherry Street a symphony

of multicolored voices, tires tearing wet pavement,

Urban wind whistling through metal sheets.

 

Under the too-sweet-cake smell I stay

Because you stay with me. It forms a fist

In the back of my throat, but I stay

Because you stay with me.

 

Black silhouettes behind your slanted shoulders

Lean in, spread lips into each other, know;

Night brings to Cherry Street a subtle show

Of red neon signs, bursting beams of headlights,

Christmas strings suspending us in a yellow glow.

 

Your lit eyes, innocent, watch me watching them;

Your mouth smiles sweetly. Blush rises on this pale face

as it turns away, that you won’t watch me watching them;

Your mouth smiles sweetly.

 

Stuck at a Red Light

Hard plastic wedge, bike seat, pulsing into bruises

as she rocks backwards, forwards on conversed feet,

squeaking rubber under a red light, under broadening daylight.

Her image becomes a postcard slipped into the mail room of

thoughts drivers-by should address when they get around to it:

a young girl stuck to a ride with wheels going nowhere

behind impassable yellow lines

waiting for a little white man to appear

and tell her she can walk away.

 

Stephen

Perfect skin, llama-like

neck and teeth and long face,

no chin, smiles like a dignitary,

he drinks for the laughs.

 

Africa got stuck

under his white nails

last summer, so

he wants to wake

every next morning

grasping black flesh

of perfect soil in

his hands and

feeling it pull back.

 

He reaches, arks his arms high;

The air stretches to accommodate.

Kenya cups her hands

to receive him,

poured out.

Thirst is at both ends.

Vagabond Baggage

The tear wound bleeds inked paper,

book spines, rusty sandal clasp,

computer cord veins, black. Ribbons of

blue frayed flesh unravel lissome. The

mouth heaves a soft bible with

matted leaves like a sigh, teeth

tearing apart, a toothbrush

tweezing the jagged gap.

Pens poke like spines from its

netted sides, tangled in old receipts.

A half-full CamelBak wedges between it

and an unfamiliar backseat. Two slender

legs, long, crossed, curl over it, serape-coated,

socks swishing the window at cars that pass

on the road.