Birch Street

The Coil
The Coil
Jun 6, 2018 · 2 min read

Poem by Charles P. Ries


Sitting on the porch outside my walk-up with Elaine,
watching the Friday night action on Birch Street.
Southside’s so humid the air weeps.

Elaine and I are weeping, too.
Silent tears of solidarity.
She’s so full of Prozac she can’t sleep, and
I’m so drunk I can’t think straight.
Her depression and my beer free our tears
from the jail we carry in our hearts.

Neighbors and strangers pass by in the water vapor.
Walking in twos and fours. Driving by in suped-up
cars and wrecks. Skinny, greased-up gangbangers
with pants so big they sweep the street, and girlfriends
in dresses so tight they burn my eyes.

I can smell Miguel’s Taco Stand. Hear the cool
Mexican music he plays. Sometimes I wish Elaine
were Mexican. Hot, sweet, and the ruler of my passion;
but she’s from North Dakota, a silent state where
you drink to feel and dance and cry.

Sailing, drifting down Birch Street. Misty boats,
street shufflers, and señoritas. Off to their somewhere.
I contemplate how empty my can of beer is and
how long I can live with a woman who cries all day.

Mondays are better. I sober up and lay lines for the
gas company. Good, clean work. Work that gives me
time to think about moving to that little town in central
Mexico I visited twenty years ago, before Birch Street,
Elaine, and three kids nailed my ass to this porch.

CHARLES P. RIES lives in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. His work has appeared in over 200 publications and is archived at Marquette University. He has received five Pushcart Prize nominations and is the author of The Fathers We Find, a memoir, and six books of poetry, including Girl Friend & Other Mysteries of Love.

Fourth Place Winner of the 2014 Luminaire Award for Best Poetry

The Coil

Literature to change your lightbulb.

The Coil

Written by

The Coil

Managing Editor & Associate Editors for The Coil from @AltCurrent: https://medium.com/the-coil. Fiction, poetry, interviews, reviews, lit commentary, essays.

The Coil

The Coil

Literature to change your lightbulb.

The Coil

Written by

The Coil

Managing Editor & Associate Editors for The Coil from @AltCurrent: https://medium.com/the-coil. Fiction, poetry, interviews, reviews, lit commentary, essays.

The Coil

The Coil

Literature to change your lightbulb.

Welcome to a place where words matter. On Medium, smart voices and original ideas take center stage - with no ads in sight. Watch
Follow all the topics you care about, and we’ll deliver the best stories for you to your homepage and inbox. Explore
Get unlimited access to the best stories on Medium — and support writers while you’re at it. Just $5/month. Upgrade

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store