Stewart Brisby


An Old Enemy Leaving Town


tonight i returned & found you gone
your death spoken casually
on tongues of survivors who live
where home is closed til 2 a.m.
& mothers keep children
from polluted water.

they say you
drank yourself to sleep with
    A CAPFULL FOR THE DEAD
    AND THE FELLAS UPSTATE
a toast to asphalt children
crossing the east river drive
to dance dark green water
at river's edge
in spite of undertow warnings
& because of them.

once after scars had healed
i heard you speak proudly
of our violence
& knew you were alone.

we deserved much better for you than this.

warm summerwine settles in dust between cracks
that once threatened
to break our mother's backs
& wolverines who dwell the pavement
flock to me now with palm & tarot readings
offering full pardon for felonies
we've forgotten.

& they will never understand
why we liked dancing so near
the edge of that dark green water
on the east side of harlem.

Submitted: Monday, January 20, 2003

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