Poems

Coleen

I know your name now
I know you have no place
to sleep tonight.
I know you’re so anxious
you can’t come and sit
with the other guests
so I bring you a meal-to-go.
Don’t give her money
someone says
I give you chicken
rice, an orange.

Your beauty is dissolving
into night,
smack, skag, snow, H
taking you.

Heroin is white           
               but your lips are blue

and blue is seeping into the room
where you passed out last week,
the room
where your head hit the floor,
blue dust is wafting from the ceiling,
oozing from the floorboards,
soaking your clothes.

Blue like your scarred veins
                           begging for oblivion.

At the end of your life
            a blue
                         question mark.

 

Karla

Tells me
she used to live
in Reno
worked as a nurse
had to come back
to get insurance
after the cancer.
She’s homeless now,
in a shelter.
Stays 7 nights
then needs to leave
and reapply.
Where do you go?
I ask.
I have my ways —
IHOP closes at 4 A.M.
Starbucks opens at 5.
Her belongings
hang from plastic bags
tied to her walker.
She used to live
in Reno.

 

Billie

Billie’s shopping cart was stolen
on Broadway.

What if your house was swallowed
by a sinkhole?
Grabbed by a tornado?

What if you came home to nothing?
Bits of steel clinging
to the trees nearby,
a stuffed animal
dismembered
on the sidewalk.

 

Looking

She looked in the closet, behind the logs in the fireplace. Under
the bed. She even took the TV apart. Looking. In the closet, the
drawers, the pile of clothes in the corner of the bathroom. Later,
she went out to Starbucks. Looked in the big chairs. The cracks of
the overstuffed chairs.

People watched her. Noticing. She left and returned at 3 A.M.
when the drizzle came down on Wabash Avenue. She cried. She
was beginning to wonder if she’d ever wear pink again.

She thought it might get worse and it did. The drizzle turned to
snow and the cat disappeared. At night she thought she saw its
gold tongue coiled in the black branches outside. Gone. She went
looking. She saw herself in windows. A blank between this and
that.

It disappeared along with the socks. The cat. A question mark gone.
A name wasn’t necessary. The socks, the cat, and (now) blue fingers
the size of lashes, eyes the size of goldfish eggs. The doctor told her
things went perfectly. But she’d heard it wailing. She woke at night
looking. Behind the curtains, under the bed. Following the sound.
A brief endless cry.