for all you late-night riders of the urban underbelly.
Dirty coins ring hard on the boatman's eyes. This river is steel and fire, but it doesn't flow. Not here. Not in this place. Black and white make way for red and green. How is it that choices can yawn when they hang limp and dull, like flags from dead poles? Always pick green.
false innocence gleams, imp-like;
striped pants and braces
Slip quick down dark halls and wander through the nether-regions of the city. Feel the hum and rumble and the wake of cold stones / sleeping arches; linger in the black and white and blue light of articulation. A spark. A crackle. A roar.
bright light boots on the turnstile,
wide eyed / dancing
What dances like rats in the cracks? Momentum and sticky pools, lapping at the smooth burnished steel and asking why hands hold without feeling. Plastic butterflies promise happiness. Is this a trickle or a wash? Watching bright spots dance to reflected faces. Empty and full, waiting for fragments / fiery streaks of hot chrome.
girl with a flower, smiling
hand to stem to heart
When petals fall, they fall on soggy boot laces. Propped up on seats, dripping with things left unsaid / unwanted / unused / unmarked. Does a glass chandelier make a burrow any less dirty? Hurtful thoughts break high-society with hurled beer bottles—stones cast down Urd's well.
words pour loose from a head-phoned man,
Words to no one find every one / silent participation. Contemplative accessory to thoughtless grit boiling up from the under-belly. Graffiti walls pulse free with ragged, well-rhymed edges. Shopping bags cling to a pant leg; needy plastic wrapping to the security of an ankle. Purses clutched tight—arms crossed / body closed / eyes skipping with reflections of home. What breeds fear?
ballcap staring down dark tunnels,
seat filled with blank skin
The earth opens to proudly unfold an I-beam tightrope. Cracks snaking up pillars / phantom fingers painting trees on the trellis. Concrete branches balance the dark-sky rush-hour as it pours over long tracks / steel grids. Light blinks up from the water and its murky agitations. The earth closes.
pink scarf wound tight / a pale stare,
quick through darting glass
The river flows uphill, pours into a chain-link delta. Human projects tickle chaos on its sleeping belly and hope that it doesn't wake. How long does it take to climb to the light, when there is no moon in the sky?
late-night ghosts wander the streets,
feet pressed in concrete
Dew and dark grass stand like an ocean between rocky shores of light. A different kind of solitude.
by Patrick M. Pilarski
Edmonton, Alberta, Canada
first published in Five Weeks (2007)