Saturday, August 13, 2011

Poem from a future project tentatively titled, “Dampness”

Change By Jasen Sousa


I walk empty early morning Saturday streets
hoping that I might bump into someone I know, I won’t
though, never will. Stores have yet to raise
their signed pieces of crinkled metal paper
that gets erased by ruling teachers, the same ones
who taught me about the world, and the same

ones who left out a few key details. The roads are light
with traffic, and vehicles move like the overweight on treadmills, not yet
in a rush to get to wherever it is they’re going. The immigrated
unemployed are beginning to gather in groups and wait
for an American hand to show them a dream. I wish
someone would reach for my heart like they do a cup

of coffee. Too hot. Napkins tightrope sidewalks
and try not to fall over from last night’s stains. Take
it all in, sip, sip, until the crowd stares at you for slurping; maybe
they won’t notice because their minds are empty and their stomachs
are full from a routine that doesn’t allow them to speak
the words, “I’m not hungry!” I have left

a big tip that I hope “Alana” with the red
hair and freckled cleavage will spend on something
she can savor for more than a break that arrives
at 10 and 2 Monday through Friday,
and sometimes on weekends. Count the wrinkled
leaves of Fall, smooth them out and place

them inside dictionaries which contain words
that if placed in the right order could bring
great fortune too large for definition. Look up
at the sky on the Atlantic City Boardwalk on a summer night
and notice how seagulls have taken the place of stars,
and how machines have taken last week’s

entire check. I unpack my pockets from a day’s journey
around a city I have been born
and raised in. It has changed, I have changed, but what
has really changed? The sidewalks are raised
and the meals cost more than what I make
an hour, but it is home. Home for me

and for the friends I wish would call
and tell me to meet them at the park
like when I was younger, but the park is gone, and so are the payphones.

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