By Inches

Watching shadows cross the street
Growing from hovels clustering about
The brick and mortar feet
Of the shops and cafes
Soon to become towers themselves
Castles, forth floor twilight walk-ups
Apartments for stick people
Caricatures, emblems,
All lines and angles, now scrap of meat or bone
Without dimension, pasteboard placard flat
Penumbral cityscape silhouette
Painted across the pavement.

Everything in marginal increments
Sundials keep time in inches
Revolving around cupola and steeple gnomons
Emanating from bars playing out on bar at a time
Measure for measure
Cavern door mouth yawning sleepy wide
Opening at day’s close
Watching the sun drooping
A great eye sinking inexorably lower
Fighting a losing battle against slumber
Bright child laying her weary head
To dream beneath the counterpane
Distant purple hills.

Children sleep and dream comfortably
Now it’s the grown-ups time to play
Or rather perhaps just bigger kids
Clinging grubby fingered to memories
Of passion, wild freedom, or maybe just fucking
Furtive sticky fumbling a barely hidden
In the not quite shadows of alleys
Illuminated by heated liquor glow,
The cool blue, red, yellow buzz
Of neon beer signs
Washing over just enough bare skin.

Saturday nights always hum
Electric wordless vibrations of desperation
Urgencies, haste, all the rictus smile
“Are we having fun or else” faces
Eyes fever bright glossy
Flush cheeked, panting, guzzling
Bodies whirling in peculiar Brownian fashion
Clustering, breaking, hurled from doorway to doorway
Governed by laws of appetite
How much make believe merriment
Can be sucked from bones long dry
Before the dusty grey mortuary return
Of Monday’s work, bills, kids, real life imprisonment shackles.

It’s all just illusion, mass market media massage fabrication
Inhabiting pop culture movie sit com canned laughter
Versions of reality, buying in
To the need, to the plastic
“Your life can be better for only $19.95”
Or the price of one night’s competitive drinking
Mad dash finish line scrambling to fill
Empty beds or empty hearts with The One
Prophesied by the people who brought you “Friends”
Or “When Harry Met Sally”

The thing is, it all breaks down
Before the last reel
Just ash encrusted hair and clothes
Taut flatline hangover migraine
Mouthful of morning breath after vomit flavor
Over churning belly full of regret
Walk of shame zombie two step weary shuffle
Stretched thin and blank as paper,
Just stick figure semblances, cartoons
Running mad dash out if frame
Dwindling into the rising dawn by inches.


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