street signs flicker and burn in stunning neon colors
where some are tacked to crumbling bricks and gaping pain
and some cast shivering shadows over the lapping waters,
their light wavering through the fog and slicked with rain.
"I wish you hadn't come here."
he lives in a disintegrating cardboard box beside an overpass,
and sometimes you can see his fingers jutting toward strangers' faces
as they hurry past with harried glances caught in storefront glass,
unwilling to linger long in such crowded, lonely places.
"It's not a good place for you to be."
i heard you screaming when the windows shattered
and i know you well, so i know how much you shook,
and i know how your breath came short and shafted,
and i know how long it might have been before you could look.
"It would have been better if you'd left me alone, I think."
she dreams of beer-stained wood and aching jaws,
and babies' screams and sweat clinging to summer skin,
and beautiful brown flesh and fingers bloody and raw,
and fights to keep the fermenting fear-ache within.
"I suppose I'm afraid I'll die here, you know."
and what was i supposed to do when there were only pennies left,
and even gods and goddesses might have laughed at our misfortune
as you sidled from the door to silent, darkened streets cleft
between misery and monotony in ever-present social burdens.
"But everyone dies eventually, and death is no great concern of mine now."
they walk with heavy steps in a strange kind of shuffle
while the chains of leg irons clink against one another,
and try not to think too hard of the coming struggle,
not reassured by promises they'll remain together.
"There are so many other things to worry about in life."
we live in a world of wonderment at ten thousand dollar dresses
and two hundred story towers housing titans of power and wealth.
we live in a world of bewilderment where casual violence stresses
the ambiguity of normativity on either side of breath and death.
"You can keep your pity for yourself — I don't need it."
where the humming fan drowns out the screaming behind closed doors
and carefully tended smiles hide the knowledge in bloodied clothes and hands,
where lurching, over-sweetened perfume does little to smother the corpses,
this is where the ghosts of cruelty lie and where empty houses stand.
"I think you should go now."
"I think it's already begun."