these blank lines
on the notebook paper
make me bleak and uneasy

like the thought of a book
no one will ever read
in the far corner of an empty library

about a vacant house
with a netless hoop
on a street with no kids

near a closed factory
where hours crawl
without a car passing by

in a gray town
with pay by week motels
and payday lending

where unsmiling bastards
will take all you have
and vanish into the cold wind

that pushes you
and your empty pockets
past the corner store

where a man in a cage
makes change
and nothing else

leaves at dawn
for his half a duplex
with windows painted shut

that fail to keep out
the curses and shouts
of the dealers next door

who get their lights cut off
unable to steer clear
of their own product

that moves into town
in the trunk of a Plymouth
from two states away

new tires and a tune-up
a bet against dying
on the side of the road

when night comes down
and cops with dogs
shove flashlights in your face

and don’t believe
a word you say
because they’ve heard it all

they hear prison bars
clanging shut
then break for the diner

that comps bad coffee
but stays open
when no one else will

when the sleepless roam
they won’t stay home
they flee bad dreams

they wander like soldiers
stumbling survivors
of luckless platoons

that took a wrong turn
lost radio contact
became forgotten

then appear in my mind
in the middle of the night
trembling reminders

that wake me
and take me
where I don’t want to go

that say nothing
and pull me
down into winter


Bob Hudson was born in Jackson, Mississippi, where he now lives, works,
and spreads happiness and joy to all he meets.

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