Collecting bottles, tossing leftovers, taking out the garbage
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Here I am, once again among my kind,
half-moon high outside the window
rowing its light down the empty street, parting
the dark waves of the parking lot, soaking the oak leaves
all the way through. Coffee shop at Broadway and Central,
no booth, perched on a stool at seventy-five and counting
on at least making it through the night.
Everyone plenty younger, yes, but still
my kind, hunched over and frowning
at computers, at phones, at paper with words crossed out,
everyone busy making marks or marking time.
We like to laugh, heads thrown back, and sometimes we bury
those heads in our arms and cry. We like to exclaim,
Birds! when birds there suddenly are;
ditto, Moon! as if never before had anyone seen
such a thing.
October 2018, miserable, miserable
year swirling all around us,
swindling us out of joy, and yet:
there are these birds calling out,
birds and a half-moon
to guide me through the darkness, in a country
that reels and staggers like a drunk father
who has run over his own child in the driveway
and wants somehow to cover it up,
to bury the child behind the house.
Maybe no one will ever know how bad it is.
But we know, my kind,
and so we sit, holding coffee or maybe even
holding someone’s hand, maybe writing about
how the sorrow never ends,
only one hour until closing time,
sixty minutes left to try to figure out
how to bear the unbearable,
knowing we are so close to the end.
Then tomorrow, damned if we don’t
show up all over again,
because that’s what we do,
heads bent to the task at hand:
Birds! Moon! Ruin!