July 2009

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No one who passed
through the ruins
liked it much except
for small moments like
Jean arriving on Friday nights
– boots shrugging back
the snow – to cut
holes in the shadows,
easy laughter, nothing asked,
a candle in the room
and hands that
made the ruins glitter.
Everyone in the ruins was
a fugitive from something
arriving from all directions
and for all reasons
none of them gentle
cops and cries and alimony
or just no strength to run any farther.
I lived there a year in the
sweat and noise and cracked plaster
dog shit on the walkway
and the Andersons
slapping each other
for hours so they could make
fifteen minutes of exhausted love
in the next apartment,
a year with a pen and notebook,
long streaky nights of
wine bottles, freshly dead,
dope smoke in the stairwells
and motorcycles skidding
across scattered dreams.
I remember
the mechanics in 32,
a pensioner with a scarf
and the silent hooker in 36,
my door forever creaking
and the sun forever sinking
through filmy windows,
Jean the only sprig of spring,
big heart, good eyes,
the two of us
in a sleeping bag
and Dylan, always Dylan,
Forever Young, Idiot Wind.

© 1974-2009