The Bridge - Poem by Shannon Walker

His distended abdomen was swollen:
A tractor trailer tire sagging
Under the weight
Of cheap vodka and nicotine,
And the cigarette stained fingers

'That kid keeps getting sent home from school.'

Were but a darker shade of his face.
His accent made me laugh, even then,
When heavy on the air,
Through the paper thin partition walls
Of our duplex, it would accumulate

'I says to him what is it you want from me? '

Like steam through a Brooklyn sewergrate,
And how my first wife would cringe
When he spoke, and everybody else too;
Everybody except me. Even when he made
A pass at her, I laughed at him

'You want me to treat you like your father use too? '

And all the crap that he thought was normal.
He had a wife of his own,
And a daughter that had already left.
I've forgotten what the deal was with
Her, and that's assuming there was one.

'Well, I'm not going to do that.'

I wonder how many cigarettes a day
She's spent the last twenty years putting down.
But the kid never spoke,
Nor did he leave.
He just silently milled around the house.

'I'm not going to touch you like that...I'm not that kind of man.'

And as the cherry on my cigarette
Burned the skin off my frozen fingers,
And my eyes grew dry
For want of moisture,
I listened to him pop off one last time.

'I just don't know. I just don't fucking know.'

He told me.

Poems by Shannon Walker

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