I’m no longer dead in the morning

fetal and afraid to start the day.

I don’t get stuck in the subway

or scan the shadows of streets.

This life is better than Betty

and all that was, but lately, the lights

flicker whenever I walk past.

I don’t know, maybe it’s just

the hard labor, but I feel the dark

and nobody in Nicetown knows

about dust. It’s starting to itch me,

what I did, and maybe Pennsylvania

isn’t far enough. Maybe there is a place

you can pull peaches and oranges

from trees. I wake from dreams

thinking, I am not a soul.

Then, last night, in the bar

they were all watching

Fox News again. Nobody looked

at me. And I wanted to say,

it was best, what happened. I never

liked those buildings: their shadows

froze everything. Mornings walking

into their long trench coats was like

walking into slabs of ice. And once

I saw Betty where I did not expect

to see her: hailing a cab way the fuck

down on 15th and I thought, Christ,

                             I was not where I should have been

that morning, started for work a little late.

Ditched my phone near the chaos, crashed

at the Port Authority. And it is a small comfort

that my photo hung on the walls

with the murdered, that maybe

she’ll have enough money now.

I like to picture her going to that hole,

the sun on her face and a new man

on her arm. Safe, thinking my bones

are buried, that the past is the past

is the past, and I am not coming home.


First Published in in The Golden Hour Book (2007), revised for  New Leaf 23 (2007)  and collected in  Tomorrow, We Will Live Here, 2010.