Oct/Nov 2007 Poetry

All Saints' Day, Miami

by Les Kay

All Saints' Day, Miami

Where Snapper Creek wafts
under 826, teems with sea bass,
waterfowl, and an occasional manatee,
I stumbled beneath the bridge,
slid down gravel to the white vinyl
sandbags where turtles sometimes
sun themselves. I only meant to shave
a few seconds from my walk to the mall;
instead, a form at the summit of sandbags
stirred beneath an oil-splotched sheet,
then coughed a thick gasp for air
over the hum of autos passing above.
When my wingtips scraped the sand,
he stirred again and lifted his neck.
How ya doin' man?
                                        Fine, fine
I said, hurrying my way to Burdines
to search for inch-thick towels
and a comforter to fight the draft
beneath my bedroom door.

That night, I stirred from sleep when a troll,
hunchbacked, crept through my apartment.
Exposed bedsprings scraped my sun-charred skin.
Oiled water poured from a faucet.
I could not wash.
                                        When I woke,
I clutched at my heart as if an "Our Father"
might ooze from my mouth like honey,
as if St. Labre might sully his knees to soothe
the blistered feet of a man who sleeps beneath a bridge,
scavenging dreams in discarded sheets.


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