What He Sees
He scuffs down a broken bridge, concrete flattop mountain where he sleeps with palmetto bugs. He slides toward the lying sun that makes the day friendly, bright, but it’s just another stray pit bull unfed running loose. He reaches bottom in time for a new/used Mercedes smashing the abutment with his name on it. The lady inside is now as broken up as he is, her clothes splotched with blood speckled glass, looking like his best Sunday suit that he wears on Wednesdays when the Catholic soup kitchen serves both lunch and dinner and he’s going to church, after all. He has a concrete soul after ten years on the streets. He tears it in two pieces to put on the bottom of his feet since souls don’t wear out. He kicks through styrofoam crushed by passing cars, picks up flat cigarette packs because he remembers when they were full, smells ripped blunt rappers because he remembers the get-high they promised, but now it’s all gone, just like the square colored rubber wrappers that held cover for his pleasure. A shitty diaper grows next to the wild ageratums, purple mixes with white and blue plastic, he thinks of the silk flowers his wife used to put in leftover Richard’s bottles she sat near her blanket at the women’s shelter, but that was when he could find her. All he could really offer her was his two immortal souls and a 14 carat street diamond—broken glass on a discarded cokecola cap mounted with chewing gum but glistening just the same. Since he can’t find his old lady, he scuffs on to old men corner—pan-handlers, sweat-stained ball caps crumpled in 100 degrees. The heat index begging for change browns all their eyes tints them red, and it’s the heat that does it not the permanent fix of Wild Irish Rose—she was a beauty or at least that’s what they all thought, what he thought when he asked his woman to marry him under the wisteria at the corner of MLK Jr Blvd. He didn’t hallucinate her, not see her standing strong in gardenias that bloom in November because the sun doesn’t know how to carry its sorry ass home. He asks the ball cap nearest him and he turns to ask another who turns to ask another down the line like Rockettes got a cigarette? Back up the line of swiveling bobble-heads comes the answer—naw, fool! Ya betta wait fuh duh the Catholics tuh feedjuh.
Melissa Prunty Kemp. I have been teaching creative writing and various other composition and literature courses for the past 27 years. I wrote my first poems at age 13, which were published in the junior high literary magazine, The Bagpipe, and in yearbooks. I knew no other way at that time to extol the love I had for an unknown Cheyenne Indian in Wyoming; a poem had to be it. Blog: