When You Take to the Streets the Streets Take to You
You walk the wind-swept streets,
waiting to be scrubbed from the asphalt
like chalk, as if you were a forgotten
crime scene. The streets you walk go on
forever or until they end. You sometimes
think about endings: how they taste bad
like a mouthful of coffee grinds or just
have a way of happening like the onset
of that night you attempted a solo flight
off the roof. This was also the night
that ended with you in the middle
of the street waving your fist at a car
while the word, Asshole, reverberated into
the sky. You forget that person’s name,
but you’re pretty sure it was Asshole.
The streets have no scales even in March,
but if they did, they would just be dead
snakes. No one wants to talk about that
because of the symbolism and most people
don’t like snakes because that’s not what
Jesus would do. There was that time when
you were mistaken as a streetwalker
and had to explain the fishnets to the police,
and had to explain away the police and the
collect call. Once someone tried to explain
human anatomy to you when you were too
young to understand words like capillary
and aorta. They used a crude traffic metaphor
that still eludes you to this day. All the times
you were stuck in a gridlock you thought,
This is what a heart attack must feel like.
When the neighbor’s house caught fire,
the streets were cordoned off by officials
and rubberneckers and ambulance chasers.
Down the street, you saw the smoke rise
like someone clambaked the neighborhood.
You really thought you and the street
got away with it this time. This and so much
more, but streets always run themselves
ragged and dead-ended. This is the way,
you figure, so much else works. Except
the sky. It’s endless. And when you shout
your complaints into it by saying, Help!
You hear back, Get a job; or you’re just not
on speaking terms. This too has an end.
Eric Morris teaches creative writing at Cleveland State University and serves as a poetry editor for Barn Owl Review. His work has appeared in Dressing Room Poetry Journal, Whiskey Island, The South Dakota Review, Puerto del Sol, The Laurel Review, Pank, Post Road, Thrush, The Jet Fuel Review, The Collagist, Anti-, Devil's Lake, Redactions, and others. He lives and writes in Akron, OH.