Sunday, July 9, 2017


rusted ghosts of sidewalk town

cataract ghosts howling out the silence,
pawing out a place to sleep

garbage cans regurgitating raw
food for fledgling bums

every bum is fledgling, the veterans
have all found cracks to slip through

up and down the main strip in town
you’ll find a metallic gospel of hate

it radiates through staring eyes and trickles
down from economics and upturned faces

steel-hearted sensations
skidder ‘cross the asphalt

if it isn’t monetized
it isn’t freedom

but the rusted ghosts of sidewalk town
still feel the pulse of blood

the man standing by the sewer drain
holding flower stems with his left hand

his right hand just a curve of flesh
stumped off in a battle long lost

he still sees through one eye even if
the other is glazed white and aimless

“they took my heart away
and no one spares a dime”

and since he can’t live without either
he aims to give them the rest

whether they like it or not

the reverse of fear
the insistence of generosity

he whispers promises
beneath the deafening dirge

traffic lights and progress,
a blinding din of cell phones

advertisements and Coca-Cola,
beautiful women and hollow men

he gives his unspoken hope and limps
past the factory to the edge of the creek

the dead railroad tracks
the shattered windows

the gutted doorways
the single empty shoe

the faded campaign signs
the spraypainted swastikas

the flowering weeds through the cracks
broken filaments

creating a light no one can see,
rusted ghosts howling out the silence

and on a desolate corner he makes
his final stand, broken bottle, veins in hand

as somewhere else someone walks a toy
Pomeranian to piss where he used to lay his head

--James H. Duncan

Bio: James H Duncan is the editor of Hobo Camp Review, co-host of the Troy Poetry Mission reading series, and author of suck books as Dead City Jazz, What Lies In Wait, Berlin, Dealing with the Devil in the Middle of the Road, and other collections of poetry and fiction. For more visit

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