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on the block

Credit: Erik Zunder

a man blinks his long plastic eyelashes, 
and there’s something beautiful about it.
nice ass, sweetheart
you wonder if those breasts are real. 
his runway—the cracked pavement—is scattered with chicken bones,
gnawed to the quick, 
and a Fanta bottle that’s been there for sixteen months. 
there’s still a thin rim of sugar at the bottom.

trees arch their oblivious trunks to lend the drunks some cover, 
and as usual there are four lonely men 
slumped at the roots. 
those eyes are either sleeping or dead — no one’s ever sure until they twitch.
next to the liquor store, a man sells wreckage from people’s houses: 
a treadmill, a printer, and a portrait of somebody’s family 
all in matching T-shirts.

as it gets later, more bodies gather 
so there’s only a thin path to walk down the block. 
nobody’s walking anyway, though.
roaches crawl into an empty liquor bottle to lap up the piss, and
somebody shrieks something giddy, hysterical.
a boombox plays until they kick it into the street.

there are no street lights here:
when it’s dark, it’s dark.
faces sink into the inky night,
rotting teeth like hungry stars.
Christ sighs the graffiti splashed across the storefront. 
it’s only Tuesday.