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You are cold to my heart.
Sometimes your foreignness corners me
like noise in a crowded room.
Was I too quick to wear your name on my sleeve?
I’ve called so many things love
when in fact they weren’t.
I’d sit among the animated conversations,
share a table with the living pages
of your breathless glamour
and the nuances of their language
would start picking my identity apart
like rust on a piece of iron.

The opera is Mount Olympus
and the homeless are the masks from the tragedy
that have slipped off the actors’ faces.
The South Side is a thousand aborted Renaissances.
In the West Side they weave sacred bundles
with mementos from a shared past and call them home.

Compassion in the streets is a desecrated temple.
Diversity is someone’s beloved child,
temperamental and fed a daily dose of Vicodin.
In the Loop, denizens bleed money
from their jaded taste buds.

Once I spent an afternoon on the Riverwalk
watching people, trying to know them by their eyes.
There was a sheen to their movement
that felt impervious to the weather.
Four years and I haven’t deciphered
the rhythm to their step.
I can’t walk with them. I have no friends.

Would it make me any wiser if I took the bus?
I don’t understand the graffiti.
My acts of rebellion are stained with melancholy;
my most earnest prayers sound plagiarized.
Even the people who have the same facial features I do
have an easy complexity I don’t recognize.

There’s a pile of refrigerator magnets
at the souvenir shop that nobody wants
because they show the “old” Navy Pier.
I’ve only been to Navy Pier once
and all the companies I tried to keep
and stories I tried to tell fell like anchors
that didn’t bear enough weight to resist the currents.
I am an object in the wind.
I trace the skyline with my fingertips
but possess no arrow to penetrate its center.
An empty quiver and a suitcase full of intentions
in a labyrinth of violence and smoke.
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