Homeless Jack to the Young Kid Who Won’t Be Reading This

For me there is no return to sanity.

I drink like a baleen whale,

rotting nose, unwashed hair,

wear the same clothes day after day.

I write poems on scrap paper for imaginary whores.

I walk with my head hanging down

It can't sink any lower.

My heart is no use to me any more.

My apartment is cardboard

and it falls down around me.

Bums like me pick quarrels, then we weep.

We scream at ourselves in our dens.

Survive! Only the devil knows how.

Cheap whiskey and a disability check,

and a rough night's sleep beneath

the cathedral's gilded domes.

Yes, I am one of the lost, just like you,

wandering all night till dawn.

But I don't mope over lost love.

It's the years I've lived that stand me up.

So I drown my eyes in

all the bandit brew I can't afford.

I stick out my rough red hand at passersby.

I'm pissed off at everything and everyone.

I'd kick my mangy dog if I had one.

My best times are spent remembering the old country,

the youth you squander but I cherish,

the moon consecrating steeples,

hillsides, sleepy and golden,

villages, muddy but clean.

My speech patterns are slurred but proud.

That old accent can't speak enough of me.

But you talk tawdry and decayed before your time.

Your voice is a razor, its tongue spent slashing you.

We're both out here in this dread downtown.

I huddle under bridges where neon can't find me.

You seek out the lights as painted as your face.

Snow falls and you duck into a club.

I wrap the ragged blanket around me.

I'm wasted, you're about to be.

I'm condemned to die, you to live.