Rush Hour

All day, the important things
leave. Behind the skyline,
the sun is a fast star.
Light seeps
into the city. The street lunges
on its silver belly, turns
back, gives up.
Up steel grids, the city's
last hot breath
pushes itself everywhere
like a stain. They start
to come out, the black suits, men
who can't wait
to loosen their ties. They brandish
briefcases like tense dreams that
just repeat and repeat. Women
exit buildings alone, their hands
shading their eyes, their hands cupped
like hats. Everyone is necessary.
At five o'clock, everyone
wants bourbon, or sleep. Sales
girls lilt past
with a smell of old gardenias, stiletto
heels clicking their song
like castanets. Nylon against flesh,
the swish of skirts. On streetcorners,
newspapers hide faces. Headlines
turn the world
into one small idea. The old drunk
propped on the corner
is asleep with a smile
on his face that could save
this city. Workers pass
him, think "misplaced brick."

:: Gillian Conoley, Some Gangster Pain (Carnegie Mellon, 1987)

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