The Crackdown

Work, bus, drugs, arrests, drink, and
struggle
and no good music anywhere.

And the young male press
says the crackdown on us is coming.

I say we’ll crack ourselves
before they ever get here
if we are not too careful.
They step over us
to avoid their mother’s backs.

Don’t walk alone
they shake their heads
they say say say
all sorts of stupid things,
but they do not say
how to get cabs with money
that stays in the rich man’s pocket.

We each walk alone
Needs must for the lazy (they say say say)
mother
because the late shift pays more.

We rest at last in rooms
behind the hardware store
through the alley
where our children sleep
in streetlight light
that shines
through thin curtains.

Copyright Kay Winter

Falling Away

For years he walked against the wind, struggled against life’s gales, fighting for each step. He would turn his head from side to side straining to draw breath at times as he shielded his face from the stinging reach of his mistakes, and when the wind turned to a lesser breeze he’d look skyward for a light to show him the way, but all he found was reflections of shame.

He would sit down then, hunker in and wait for the storm to pass. Then when it did and he could stand and see around him all he saw was nothing, he couldn’t see into the future and he couldn’t see into his past, all there was, was nothing. He failed, failed to progress, failed to attain, he failed to be anything but present.

Like so many the present is unaccounted for, they wander between what came before and what happens next. Never knowing their fate, always looking for the solid, steady ground below their feet, which always seems to be there…until it isn’t.

When that moment comes and it always does, you have choices to make; you can surrender and fall away or reach out desperately and grab hold of the very edge and hang on. Then you fight, you fight with everything that’s left, you fight and claw and battle against gravity. You pull and struggle, and you as your fingers bleed and become cold and frozen and the feeling in your legs dissipates quickly you get angry and you spit as you cry out for a chance, just a little opportunity to show you have something left to give.

When you dig deep enough and you find that small flame buried somewhere in your soul you suck it in, and use it and crawl from that hole and roll over onto your back, exhausted, and weep. For you just learned that there is fight in you yet, that there is something worth saving and you love it and caress it and as you lay there contemplating the present, you realize that the clouds that kept your world dark and empty have begun to thin. You see blue sky and know there is something in your future if only you strive to put it there, there is something and you will find it.

In response to my friend Brian Garrity’s short story “Sirens of Franklin” in his new book “Cig”.

Go home
You all yell to the woman with the covered head
As you drive by bravely
And you all laugh again, except your heart is breaking
You yell together the N word as you pass a lone black man and you see the fear
Someone throws a beer can and it almost hits him
You see his fear, his anger
Your fear, your anger
Queer
Freak
Faggot
Fairy
Nasty mean words thrown up and out of the mouth
You yell as you drive by
Your friends
You all laugh and have another swig of beer
You, you yell your hate out, hoping somewhere inside it will go away
This is not how you want to be
You know that queer, that freak, that fairy, that faggot, that foreigner is in you
You are them
You don’t belong
You don’t want to be found out
You liked his/her dress and heels
The purse was beautiful
You envied her ability be who she was
You hated her being who she was because you can’t be who you are
The ‘boys’ want to beat her up
‘You’ want to beat her up
Beat yourself up
But no
You keep driving
Now you’re the pussy
Yes you are, but not because you won’t beat her up
You have another sip of beer and swallow everything

 

Copyright Don MacLeod