Old Wars And Jingle of Coins
(on a walk in 1973)
Fat fingers of Chicago skyline in upward reach, beyond umber momentary sliver of slumbering sun, into the perched edge to night …. a day sighs, “done”. when 45¢ seemed too much common girls walk… ……hushed in our pockets fear jingling noise between coins, the bus fare… wary city girl’s fingers cradle, fumble…and clench when alone and darkness seeps…. billows then falls ….. illuminated dusk and opaque shadow.
Gentle rain …orderly, tiny droplets absent a storm’s malice glisten streets as steel & chrome navigate home … morphing exhaust transient in paling blue, trails that flow of headlights. young in stroll across metropolis its constant thrum rising through limbs ….caution roams homeward wending thru sidewalk mosaics of borderlands and neighborhoods. glee…. reserve in quiet observation as corner torches smolder a sunless light in mimic of day.
Furtive life echos off distant silhouettes down a backstreet of neon signs a dark girl stands blows kisses that cost slate eyes squinting in orange spark hard face aglow behind a cigarette to windows rolled down. out… a Cuban rhythm strums …. portent in ruckus on vulgarities follows. with insult, his tattooed arm grabs her …..in force indignity struts away she throws him back a finger. pavement swiftly floods dark and tainted laughter… sinisterly male all women (and girls) awash in that loud disrespect and its conflict of skins that separate. an old war then ……………..…an old war now.
Flash!… to recoiling gasps the dark girl staggers… crumbles as gun’s hot barrel shouts malign utterance! each breath, anguish…. its summoning groan ignites a flight of panic. rancor takes exit in a grey Bel Air bar doors creak, thrown open and close frantic alley rats, men and boys scatter women pause… then dart the Fate’s thread unraveling compassion… not woven in tapestry … but webs. If not this soul & bones in dance most certainly, those bitches, Fate, would have come for another.
Pooling over the altar of her curb slumps the dark girl .… fingers curl, momentum in pain a pulsating mortality clings the gash of pink meat, wet spilling its human red …. cigarette hung like failing organ caught between teeth …………closing her lips in pull draws hard on its smoke. expelled….. sputtering rush of thin white cloud on diminishing moan becomes shudder of death. pavement swirls crimson about the warm corpse, heads of old crows gaze on turn ghost as windows close on dingy brick walk-ups.
Without a name…. she fades no more than unpleasant odor, notes of a rancid perfume… wanted gone. silent….. silenced… not all end dead, those blackeyes, bruised bones menace of quiet, h u s h e d…. their broken bodies in mend. below impertinent clatter of an “L” train blue lights spin and siren’s whine…. to where a pair of cheap high heels sit, memento mori, blood-red kiss upon a cigarette afloat in a corner gutter. ……..the next bus that stops I get on jingling the fear….of an old war then …. so old… and tired of that war now.
©jef littlejohn 2019 to Jude, to Karen, to 3 Aunts & too many others.