by William Doreski
Where the walkway ducks under
the highway, graffiti dapples
the concrete abutments. Layer
upon layer of paint has rendered
the obscenities vague as landscapes.
I can’t read any, but understand
the urge to shock strangers and impose
an obscure ego on the world.
I’ve never caught anyone painting
these slurs, although I pass here
daily to buy lottery tickets
and vodka at the liquor store.
The swoosh of traffic overhead
and rattle of steel plates as trucks
too heavy for the bridge crank up
for the long climb to the pass
threaten to collapse this space,
crushing whoever’s foolish enough
to linger over inscriptions
illegible as puberty itself.
I emerge into November glare
harsh enough to separate me
from my shadow. The river
already looks cold enough to kill
anyone who tries to wade it.
The rattle of current over stones
is a clatter of dice. I shuffle
the last few yards to the liquor store
and pay for my sins with Visa.
Back through the underpass,
no one else in the area—
but here’s a fresh smear of paint,
surly crimson, unreadable
and still wet, a muddle of symbols
nothing like human speech.
Copyright © 2012 by William Doreski.