Friday, August 11, 2006

Atlantic Avenue Lament

on the nuclear summer days
when despair stuck to my bones
like molasses, and I drank down
as the tourists drank down
watered-down, $5 pina coladas,
I saw you;
washing sand from your feet,
drinking from the fountain
tying your hair, drunk with the sun,
back from your face,
scowling at the bare-chested men
their hanging guts,
surgery scars,
and jailhouse tattoos

for a moment
like a heart murmur
our eyes locked, then spun away
into the mid-afternoon murk

I walked the pier, alone,
fresh from the institutional grey
of the methadone clinic
drinking malt liquor from a blue
"we love our customers" coffee cup
past the ancient, half-starved birdmen
licking thin lips over crabs trapped in cages,
grimacing, sweaty men with furry backs
and old women baking on lawn chairs
next to optimistic fishing poles

and I could not tell the spot
where the sea meets the sky
so I just walked on
smaller and smaller
regressing to a point
before it all fell apart

impatient for the end
further, further
Tony O'Neill

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