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Often I am Permitted to Return to the City

as if it were a scene made up by my need

for a city, viaducts July-sweating sweat not

mine as the city is no longer mine, was never,

but it holds me near to its metallic, junkyard

pasture and junkie song so hollow it’s a hall

I dare not walk through, this tragic place

wherefrom the people with my face fall.

Wherefrom fall all the architectures I am

I say are my people’s people and my people

whose houses tremble as thunderous bass passes.

The blacktopped roads sop up heat for double

Dutch feet to greet, rope slapped down

by a child’s hand. I used to know her name.

It is only a dream of trees, their propeller seeds

blown west through batches of weeds crocheted

yellow-green with dandelions and cigarette butts

once erect from a mouth stressed over rent due,

dried spit the tincture of wait and liquor stores.

Often I am permitted to return to this city

as if it were a gift for which I forgot the means

to augur into clarity, always wrapped in cool violence,

neighbors’ frowns cauterized into cul-de-sacs,

omen outcasting what lives to give relief.

from Thief in the InteriorFind more by Phillip B. Williams at the library

Copyright © 2016 Phillip B. Williams
Used with the permission of The Permissions Company, LLC on behalf of Alice James Books.

Published in Phillip B. Williams Poems

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