The cop’s cruiser patrols east.
Saturday night may turn
to drunks and domestics.
Wet streets, tire slosh, midnight traffic.
Three youths in bandanas and black jackets,
a man in a motorized wheelchair with a whole earth flag.
She pinches her thigh, tight blue pants on slick seat,
a fat test before her next fitness challenge.
Voodoo Doughnuts is open all night.
Coffee. Maple bars. Or carrots and broccoli in her bag.
Sunken graves, tipped stones,
the pioneer graveyard promises this man only an owl
gives a hoot at a lean January moon
hung in wisps of shredded cloud.
At the service center they call him William.
He rustles in his pack, hauls out a tarp
and tucks a slab of hand-me-out carrot cake from St. Andrews
in the lip of plastic beside his knife sharpened
to shine — talismans against wary night with bite.
One yank on knitted cap under sweatshirt hood.
Blankets from his cart, not too damp, unfold on tarp.
He rolls up like a cigar and closes down
hooded eyes against jungle blood.
He’ll be gone before the jogger’s Jack Russell
sniffs crumbs of sweet cake.
The great horned owl waits
atop a Douglas fir, glad to be rid of a mob
of crows at the golf course. He shifts
at crackle of tarp and plastic
near the mausoleum’s wrought-iron fence.
He hears a siren, a man snoring. He swivel-blinks
for vole, mouse, the low belows of graveyards
calling forth launch, float on silent wing
to feed on this, the end of day.
by Tricia Knoll, from Urban Wild.
Editor’s Note: The intense detail of this poem’s imagery may seem overwhelming, but the title reminds the reader that there is purpose and narrative in every line.
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