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Poetry #315
(published February 1, 2007)
Birch Street
by Charles P. Ries
Sitting on the porch outside my walk up with Elaine
watching the Friday night action on Birch Street.
Southside's so humid the air weeps.

Me and Elaine are weeping too.
Silent tears of solidarity.
She's so full of prozac she can't sleep and
I'm so drunk I can't think straight.
Her depression and my beer free our tears
from the jail we carry in our hearts.

Neighbors and strangers pass by in the water vapor.
Walking in twos and fours. Driving by in souped up
cars and wrecks. Skinny, greased up gang bangers
with pants so big they sweep the street and girl friends
in dresses so tight they burn my eyes.

I can smell Miguel's Taco Stand. Hear the cool
Mexican music he plays. Sometimes I wish Elaine
were Mexican. Hot, sweet and the ruler of my passion,
but she's from North Dakota, a silent state where
you drink to feel and dance and cry.

Sailing, drifting down Birch street. Misty boats,
street shufflers and senioritas. Off to their somewhere.
I contemplate how empty my can of beer is and
how long can I live with a woman who cries all day.

Mondays are better. I sober up and lay lines for the
Gas Company. Good clean work. Work that gives me
time to think about moving to that little town in central
Mexico I visited twenty years ago before Birch Street,
Elaine and three kids nailed my ass to this porch.

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