What the City Does to You In Summer – Poem

What the City Does to You In Summer

This is what the city does
to you in summer: You are sitting
in the drive-thru line at the bank,
windows pressed against the car-

exhausted heat, when you see
a man, suited navy blue and crawling
in the street. He is screaming.
You cannot hear what he

is saying, and you are trapped
in a line that does not move
according to your need, so all
you can do is watch him grovel

in the road, and you wonder
if you’d help him even if you could,
thinking of the man last week
who asked for money outside your office;

you gave him five and he followed you
inside, demanding more, grabbing
your arm, rattling you like a tip jar
until security chased him away.

Kindness dies in this kind of heat,
and everything is ugliness.

Later, you won’t remember
the woman who got out of her seat
at the corner bus stop and dropped
down with him to the gutter,

fishing out a red-tipped cane
of white. You won’t remember
that the man was blind
and never crazy; all you’ll recall

is the screaming and the creeping
along the dirty curb, and imagine
the story ends with something
terrible, every time.


City Girl – Poem

City Girl

Red wasps have taken over, swarming out
from nests tucked beneath the awnings
of the porch. He tells me not to worry,
that we can learn to coexist, that only fear
of each other brings us harm. Yesterday
I took the boat out, felt the current steal
strength from my hands, watched the yellow oar
sink into mud. Instead of rowing, I gave in
to the drift towards shore. Morning comes,
he takes his gun, heads out to conquer,
while I trace gravel roads past
the pasture fence, rough beams of wood
tied tight with twine and rusted nails. Every day
I climb this path of hills, as if rising
to some conclusion, some vital thing,
while his shots slam out like proclamations
against silence. This morning, a wasp flew out
from a corner of the kitchen, hovered over me
like doubt, like thoughts gone awry,
like some vital thing. I left my coffee,
half-sweetened, on the breakfast table as I ran.