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Sunday, August 09, 2009

Concrete Camaraderie

A winding street at night

1

before I lived --
on the street that is --
I didn't know night
could fall like a panther
at prey; descending
on the day, a dying bird
squawking away
into sudden spurts
of silence.

I didn't know
how dense
the night could be,
or how hard the earth,
even in the summer,
or how the wind
is really motionless;
it is we that move
as it shoos the night
to begone and bring back
the clamour of the day --

but you can't
interrogate the wind
that doesn't sweep
the gutters clean,
and lets remorse coat
the celestial streets
in a display of debilitation
and daily decay --
infatuations wither
in hollow hunger
and loves are ash
never swept away.

2

I didn't know
how your back itches
from lying in the mud,
or how the ear
mistranslates the voices
of the dark
in stark, open spaces,
and how exposed faces
are like prisons --
thoughts locked away
by guarded eyes
only opening to dreams
once closed,

or daring to stare up high
when reposed
on park benches --
stopping stations
on a long road --
to see how
wide the sky
grows in infinite
capacity to make you feel
small and dizzy,
or how stars burst open
best like flowers
in the darkest soil,

with the tireless,
endless toil
to grasp them,
or greedily smile
that at least
these are
jewels for none to own;
or how clouds fly
slowly, like smoke
pushed along in a breeze,

or how strangers
and trees
creak and cuss
about old age, grumpily
scratching those
less respectful
that get in their stead,
or that rain showers
are like love;
they can hammer you
half-dead.

3

on such a road
before I lived --
on the street that is --
I didn't know that survival
was a balanced dread
of walking the tracks
on both sides and none,
being on the run
when you can barely
walk, using less words
but more meaning

in daily talk with
friends of necessity --
in a shared camaraderie
of the concrete --
friends who can be
so distant in one moment,
yet so close
as your arm that their
stink can smell like
ripe fruit to hunger
in the next --

I didn't know
that ugliness could
become distant,
lost in its own beauty
from familiarity --
for its better to be ugly
than being nothing
I guess --
and I didn't know
there would be those still
tidying themselves up
in a sense of dress;

but poverty
and dignity aren't
contradictions of will --
I didn't know there
are few contradictions
on the street --
just places to soak
your feet in puddles
of story showers,
cut into the
flesh of the road,
criss-crossed like
the faces of its followers,

nor did I know
how much wisdom is thrown
out in the street;
how the lost and drunk
collect life's junk
in an attempt to hide
from view -- I didn't know how
narrow was my mind's eye,
until I saw how every
dream has been
tread before, and will be
born again after we die.

4

I didn't know
that the sun is
funereal-white at birth
and baby-cherry-red
at death, or the night
itself could be
an expanding vault
of many colours, or
a Pandora's box
of horrors
that lets out
the evils of the day,

and that in the street --
contrary to what some
might think -- your life
is what you value
the most; for even though
hope might be the smallest
boat to rope
to the rockiest shore,
illusions
are easier to lose
than hope's long oar,

nor did I know
that roads are
like rivers -- especially
the asphalt kind --
never truly straight,
or really going anywhere
but back to a here,
or that sometimes being free
is being inside a homeless,
closed-up urn, while the world
flows mercilessly past
to the only
true journey of no return.

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