By the Waterfront

Smell of something burning

in the empty parking lot

by the waterfront.

Winter always smells like that.

union men were probably killed where I’m standing no more than fifty years ago,

when my father was a child and the gangsters ruled this city,

these parts especially.

It’s interesting to think of what else might have happened before that.

but all that’s here is winter wind blowing in my face and memories.

All that action happened here,

so the girl and I could get a comforter spread 

at Ikea.

I can almost hear their ghosts


like a veteran, dying of cancer in an old age home

pissing himself because the idiot kid making ten bucks an hour

was late to work.

crying out,

I fought for this?

The sky is on fire a lot earlier than I’d like it to be.

Junkies push shopping carts while wearing hooded sweatshirts covered by jean jackets

to stay warm.

the skin on their bare hands caked and cracked; souls worn out and blistered,

resigned to working for minimum wage for survival,

the way a dog knows it will get beat before supper.

what am I doing here?

what am I doing here?

I got a lamp.

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