The Beaten Can't Stand
If it's not busted mufflers on
ragged trucks and old, wasted
cars, its police and ambulance
sirens screaming down the street
of alcoholics, drug addicts,
the illiterate, the homeless,
leaning against abandoned store fronts,
standing slumped in grey doorways,
trapped by forces they can't defeat.
If it's not the mothers screaming
at screaming babies, big kids,
screaming at little kids, A.M.
radios screaming, fathers screaming
they can't take anymore, it's
dozens of cats tormenting the few
remaining dogs, it's blackbirds
and crows screaming from dead trees,
dirt yards, and from piles of rotting garbage.
Jail, county hospital, state madhouse
the ways out.
This is what was intended.
This is the excrement of man's greed, power.
History declares this street will be forgotten,
like an old wound
replaced by high rises, condos, indoor shops,
only to have moved to another street,
nearer your street.
from After I'm Dead, Will My Life Begin? Copyright © James Humphrey Trust