& while that was going on

the light woke me

I close the door

after I pee at night

so I must’ve slept straight through

but I needed to go now

& while that was going on

fragments of my dream

came to

chasing wraiths phantoms

I could not hear her voice

had forgotten

what she sounded like

& was climbing a stair

where

a black dog jumping at me

to throw a ball

& tickling I was saying

it’s a pity you can’t purr

like a cat

but her voice?

I’m sure if I heard her

ever again

I’d know for sure

about that &

it won’t be in this lifetime

the things

not supposed to

I forget too easy

the things

I’m not supposed to say

not that I’m coming

from a place

of darkness

putting down another

for how they are

the way

they

construct their world

just that when

I see through

that veil

thin tissue gossamer

of lies

I forget too easy

I’m not supposed to

say my truth

to their eyes

to spend my days

day 3 of the rundown

no sleep for a while

& the offer

of another black bomber

did not appeal at all

I’d gone past the fever

wanting to fight the world

build walls around it all

& somewhere a touch of loneliness

was beginning to itch

make my skin crawl

I remember thinking

had I done another weekend

lost more brain cells

than I could replace?

maybe just maybe

I needed to find another way

to spend my days

seems the fun had gone

drained away

but the thing right now

seemed to be how

I could get some sleep

return

to my original face

bumptious

bumptious

stupid jobs for silly money

just to get by

pay for things we will never

take with us

anyway

for endless women

who wanted things

as love tokens

as we worked endless hours

shifting things from here

to there & back

I’d last a few weeks

maybe a month

until I found the bumptious one

could be male could be female

but they believed

I should be grateful for

the stupid job for silly money

they would not like my attitude

would make complaints

try to do me in with the boss

these snitches on little better pay

taking the side of the man

being bumptious bootlickers

against people like me

different from the words we had

there was a language

they used

different from the words we had

of sheets & blankets

ice on the inside of windows

jack frost they said

wooden clogs on feet

steel toes metal on heels

that sparked in fights

one set of clothes for school

or going to work

one for Sunday church

a coat for winter

jumpers pullovers cardigans

all these words scattered now

like sheep on a hillside

washed in spring sheets blankets

winter clothes

to be put away in cedar chests

until autumn came

a world now gone

those words we listened to

understood not a one

& then

I am not supposed to feel

anything about this

my girl with the diaphragm

we dated slept together

for a couple of years

never quite committing

& then

she was pregnant

did not know what to do

we were young

endlessly broke

I had nothing to hold onto

she chose the abortion

because I was too chickenshit

to commit

& now

I have no idea where she is

tho’ I know from friends

she is on her second husband

& I wonder if she thinks of this

if at all

these decisions made

that linger on

the signs

what did you used to smoke?

she asked

her own cigarette curling blue wisps

from a tiny silver tin ashtray

Camels I said back

she motioned the barkeep over

got any Camels?

in the machine he pointed

y’need change?

she was off her stool & at the machine

in seconds

oh the signs were there

here she offered on her way back

threw the pack at me

can you get the drinks in?

I need a pee

& after three years off

I was back on the nicotine ride

the signs were there

but I wasn’t listening

just wondering where else

she was gonna take me

would I be able

to hold on