Baltimore Bouncing in Albany New York by Alan Catlin

Your One Phone Call

By August the streets are full of them:
the seriously insane, the ones shelters
no longer tolerate, forced to sleep rough,
by day, in bus shelters, slowly working
their way uptown, one local stop at time.
Uptown, sleepless as the undead at night,
they stalk the unwary, keeping to shadows
cast by streetlights on less traveled side
streets, scavenging for cash, rolling
the infirm, the staggering drunks from
dozens of pubs, the licensed ones and
the unlicensed, the afterhours ones and
the ones that might as well be, envying
their prey, aspiring to be as they are:
blind and befuddled, brains marinating
in alcohol, putrefied by noon.
Their scents precede them into bars
where they are treated as terminally ill,
a volatile mix of bad chemicals in search
of a place to explode. The ones still
standing at Summer’s end the hearty ones,
survivors, all their brethren long ago

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