Tuesday, March 23, 2010

gunshot lullaby

gunshots cough on side city streets, out of sight, beyond the soft street light pools that ring the dark shadows of the park. horns squeal siren calls into the night, few feet beat as the urban jungle falls asleep.

rubbing hands sound like parchment scraping together, as he blows his request for a cigarette into the air. receiving none, he picks his teeth with a blade of grass, working it, and working it, smacking his gums with a sucking pop.

spilling from within the layers, a soiled handkerchief peals back to reveal the days treasure trove of crumpled butts, retrieved from cracks in the sidewalk, carelessly tossed by those that have enough not to worry about a final puff. chipped fingernails work at red lipstick rings around the filter, not picky, it just don't match my outfit, his of beat smile breathes.

his eyes are not here, though he is, lost in some other time and place, drowned in the distance contained in their far off gaze. wishing upon a star, eyes flutter and he drifts off to sleep, the comforting sounds of home tucking him in, beneath his tree.

gunshots cough on side city streets...horns squeal...few feet beat...

10DOM...A Shot in the Dark

78 comments:

Meeko Fabulous said...

Wow . . . I hadn't even paused to think that maybe someone would smoke someone else's cigarette when they toss it out. And gun shots? Remind me of growing up where I did. We kind of got used to them. Sad, huh?

Kay said...

you depict the tale of many well...amazing how your words find the poetry and grace around an otherwise-- saddening life

Gerardine Baugh said...

I grew up in the city, glad I live in the country. I love how you put this piece together, the sounds, smells, and the look of the city. Great writing!
Gerardine

Tabor said...

Nicely painted word picture of another world that most of us can pretend does not exist

william said...

sounds like a place mate I am pleased im not from, although maybe in my younger days, exciting post..

Katherine said...

You are really talented at setting a scene Brian.
These places & people exist, not only on our heads & that is such a sad, sad reality.

Bonnie, Original Art Studio said...

Raw and riveting Brian.

e said...

This way of being has come up in several guises in the last few days in blogland...

This is excellent, though saddening imagery.

Ronda Laveen said...

I'm kind of glad the lipstick didn't match his outfit. That would have been another story, indeed. Well told.

Matty said...

A side of life we know about, but don't often see.

UberGrumpy said...

Eat your heart out Hemingway! good stuff

Betsy said...

Really makes you think, doesn it!

The Retired One said...

A life that (thank goodness!) I am foreign to..very frightening!

Alix said...

His eyes are not here, though he is, lost in some other time and place, drowned in the distance contained in their far off gaze.

I've seen it first hand at the homeless shelter where we serve holiday meals sometimes. Yet there is a quiet dignity in it. I've seen it first hand.

Lovely poem Brian. The title grabbed me hard!

CatLadyLarew said...

There's another world out there in the twilight. So close and yet so far away...

Heady stuff, Brian... I like it.

secret agent woman said...

Oh, my.

Pseudonymous High School Teacher said...

wonderful imagery

Tracy said...

Ohhh...this one wasn't as scary as I thought it would be when I saw the title. You use words so beautifully, Brian!

Yodood said...

The field mice living off the spillage from an overstuffed silo are the animal spirits of citizens turned feral — the natural outcome of a disposable society. Delicate subject handled gently, thanks Brian

Lorenzo at the Alchemist's Pillow said...

You had no idea what you were going to write when you peered into that dark alley way, so all you did was listen to the city sounds and the rest just flowed naturally, as it always does for you, Brian. Good ears. Very nice.

kkrige said...

Amidst the city scape
you place a blade of grass
in forgotten lips discrete
with a humour that still lasts

The shade didn't match his outfit
Nice
Dark in a sobering way

Cop Mama said...

The imagery is amazing here. I could see every little detail as I read it. Wonderfully written.

Ocean Girl said...

The mind can be a way of escape.

PattiKen said...

Excellent! So as my Shot in the Dark heroine is gazing out across the city at 12 stories up, down on the street, your poor guy dozes off to the sound of gunshots. I'm glad he has some other time and place to go in his mind.

There used to be six million stories in the Naked City (I know, I'm dating myself). Now, I guess there are over eight million of them.

otin said...

I have seen this scene that you describe. It sounds like a typical NYC alley before The mid 80's

Bridgette said...

Sadly, people live that way...Thank you for commenting on my blog. I have been meaning to say thanks but I keep forgetting. I know I can count on you to read and comment. That really does mean a lot!!! :)

Mmm said...

The sounds of one;s own neighbourhood--reminds me of some places I've lived in the past sorry to say, not homeless though.

Nice job, Brian.

Chhaya said...

u just made me realize how lucky I am to have the life I have. u made me count my blessings. thank u, Brian

Bernie said...

Wonderful writing my friend, dealing with reality can be very sad.......:-) Hugs

Baino said...

Hmm . . nice take. I have lunch with a bunch very similar to this. Well I don't actually have lunch with them but I have given them the odd cigarette.

Marla said...

Really good, Brian. I could hear this one.

Jingle said...

his of beat smile breathes...

animated capture of character!

beautiful writing!
powerful reflection of another kind of life!

Jingle said...

there are many places like this today in America, rich and poor gap are huge, it is heartbreaking to actually see it or experience it,

I smell and hear your character,
he is alive in your words.

outstanding post!

Jingle said...

I hope that you enjoy your break later this week, it seems like you can still be in our Thursday Rally!
Happy Wednesday!
Happy Spring Break!

Selina Kingston said...

I think I am going to become addicted to this blog - you are such an amazing writer

Protege said...

So sad, but so true for many.
I guess I should remember this when I complain too much about small things in my life.
xo
Zuzana

Peter Stone said...

Hi Brian
You've captured so vividly the life that the homeless live. I especially liked the line about how his mind was dwelling on past memories.

Nessa said...

you gave this street person a very rich life

Sensational Haiku Wednesday - Dreams

the walking man said...

Never take for granted the gunshots when you can not see the shooter. I'd rather know where he is pointing the damn thing than wait for that crack as it hits the brick or that crash as it comes through the window.

City life is a lesson hard learned for them not brought up surrounded by it.

Daniel said...

Reminds me of snippets from "Under the Overpass". Life on the street. Hmmm. There but for the grace of God ....

ishabellemanalo said...

it paints me a really good picture of city life... a city that's too full of people.. and crime.. and troubles..

Jessie said...

your description of the homeless gives them an identity. you give them a presence...i won't get political, but i wish...

bravo Brian, bravo!

LadyFi said...

Gritty writing... realistic and sad.

Mr. Stupid said...

Exciting post Brian. Liked your writing as usual...:)

Have a good day!

Magpie said...

What an honest and strong piece. Thank you. In your words, he retains his dignity.

blueviolet said...

Sure makes you stop and appreciate life. Thanks for the peek into a place we often don't think about.

anthonynorth said...

What a powerful image you create here. Excellent.

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Barry said...

Strange how compassionate people can learn to tolerate such poverty amidst our plenty.

Myself included.

Barry said...

Strange how compassionate people can learn to tolerate such poverty amidst our plenty.

Myself included.

Goofball said...

gunshots cough? hmm what an euphemism

Deb said...

Well. Once again you touched my heart. I volunteer at a soup kitchen and have met this man a hundred times. My brother-in-law was a homeless man and was found dead on a sidewalk. Alone.

'his eyes are not here, though he is, lost in some other time and place, drowned in the distance contained in their far off gaze. wishing upon a star, eyes flutter and he drifts off to sleep, the comforting sounds of home tucking him in, beneath his tree.'

Hits so close to home. Powerful writing which hit me in the gut. Take care.

Maggie May said...

Felt I was there..... but glad I wasn't!

Nuts in May

Prairie Rose said...

Wow.very moving!
Thank you for stopping by my blog.
Have a great week!

buffalodick said...

I used to hunt 1/4 mile from where I live now- now it's all sub divisions...

Six Feet Under Blog said...

It is the sad reality!

Jen Chandler said...

I love reading your work. This is so lyrical and I can taste the sounds that are in it. A sad reality, true, but this reality is conveyed in such a "real" way in your words here.

Jen

JStar said...

Brian,

You really captured my heart with this one...I shed a tear...I have been trying for 3 yeras to write about my experience being homeless...I wanted something fitting out of respect for homelessness...I have slept at a train station...Surrounded by people that had adapted to this life...It was something that was a hard to accept...It gave me strength to do what I had to do to get back on my feet....This was poetry to my ears, fitting with respect of this way of life...Not putting them down, but detailing how they think...Well this man anyways...I have seen a lot of things that I need to write about...Like families, babies sleeping literally in the streets...In parks....And people look at them with disgust...When they are hungry people shrug their noses up at them...Like they are better...I was starving...I starved without begging...I was still too proud...Now, I pay attention to the homeless now...If you look into thier eyes, you see their pain...How can people turn away...Ok, dont give money...Go buy them a sandwich, they would be happy with that!!!!

Thank you Brian, thank you for this....One day I will have the words to formulate on paper....

Valerie said...

I like the mix of seriousness and humour. being picky indeed... that's a great line. Sad that the world treats people so differently.

Barbara said...

Unfortunately, you see it every day, in almost every city. We have them here in happy, sunny Boca Raton. Being a small city, we are able to help many of the worst (although a lot really don't want help.)The worst I have seen were in NYC though.

Gillian said...

You've been tagged! check out my blog post tomorrow

Jingle said...

have a fun day!
thank you for the creative writing and
long time commenting or support to many fellow bloggers, including me!

Best!

Luisa Doraz said...

We all need to accept the reality of life. Good story. :) Have a creative day!

LadyCat said...

So sad, but reality for many. I like the vacant look described as "his eyes are not here". Really makes one think.

Dorraine said...

Well, I left you a comment but I don't see it. Anyway, gritty stuff. Excellent writing. I'm impressed.

Tracie said...

I guess it's not so bad to live in this boring, small town after all.

Grand Pooba said...

Wow, makes me thankful for my life situation!

Titanium said...

A window into the reality for so many folks, these days. Poignantly written, Brian.

She Writes said...

"rubbing hands sound like parchment scraping together"

I lied this line.

Ariel said...

This piece of writing reminded me of the similar incidents I've watched on the television. I think something from True TV.

JeffScape said...

While I was reading this, I noticed how "few feet beat" stuck out. Guess I shouldn't have been surprised that you ended with those words, as well.

Tom said...

don't see much of this in our neck of the woods, but the imagery you evoke comes through loud and clear.

Liza said...

Hey Brian, I agree with Tom, and will only add one word on what you have presented here,
gritty.

Thanks for sharing.

Mighty M said...

I love this.

That's all.

Nishant said...

the sounds, smells, and the look of the city. Great writing!
data entry work from home

Not For Jellyfish said...

I like the imagery. Dingy grey.

JML said...

Dude, you have a way with words. I like the rhythm of this one, a lot. It also paints a picture of what life is like for some people!

Jingle said...

I hope that you did not get hurt when someone hit you and ruin your yellow SUV,
you are here blogging,
huge blessings when one survives dangerous accident ...

Happy Thursday Ahead!