An Urban Love Poem


There is vomit on the sidewalk next
to the building. It’s in a small alcove
but I still see it every day. Dried now,
staining the cement. An abstract. Some man
or woman, distressed girl or boy, tried
to discreetly respond to the lurch and boil
of an unsettled stomach as they moved
along this canyon of stone and metal.
Plywood covers the window of the nearest

business, long abandoned. Once a braiding salon,
then The Peanut Shoppe. Now a place to protect
with padlocked gates and boards against squatters.
On the corner is the filthiest MacDonald’s
in all of America. Greyhound buses used to squeeze
through a small opening just across the road
and unload visitors in the grim ruin of a station,
their welcome to Baltimore, to one of the bleakest
blocks, yet to be gentrified. Before the sun,

I walk this street, thinking of the sky, greeting
the odd person rushing on, moving toward
the sourdough bread colored warehouse fitted
with row upon row of pale-blue cubicles. Twenty-two
years of a windowless view, only two sheets torn
from an Ansel Adams calendar and pinned to the insubstantial
separation of me from another… another… another
remind me of the truth of trees and rocks. The stream
is everywhere, flowing. They float out of the methadone

clinic and drift up the sidewalk. A formation of friendly
gargoyles aligned in front of 7-Eleven, gnarled and smudged,
backs affixed to the wall, politely asking for change,
complimentary of coats, hemlines, stockings as I pass
back and forth in pursuit of chai. And that man who is always
there at a small table, a tooth-light smile, eyes of sparkle
black, chatting me up as I wait in the gleam, patting
my arm and wishing me a very good day here. Here,
where I am a leaf swept on effortlessly, buoyant.

September 2013
Julie Ayers


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