Perry Janes: Ambition

the son of an insomniac, i’m practiced at hearing the little
bells of a restless night ring before arrival. how the cut

angle of my neighbor’s porch light knifes past slat blinds
in slants to remind me, somewhere, the world is hard

at work. whole years i learned to roll shut the factory doors
of my eyes, to seal out the city’s soundings, asleep, until

i found myself again leaning in the half-open door
of my mind. its neon cravings screamed the night

awake. it may sound predictable but i never understood,
given time, the heart’s hunger will eat even the body.

it may seem obvious to say it but, given practice,
the body’s dark streets will learn to echo back

night’s province of pawn shops, windows full of treasure,
hand-scrawled ads promising salvation for the price

of just a few keepsakes. at this dim threshold i’ve haunted
too many times, too dull for the drunk or delirious to find

comfort, where billboards mouth their horseshit vows
and wind labors to lift each breath at my shirtsleeve,

i’m practiced at bending low to the jewel cases until
even my mud brown eyes are gems looped with string

and it’s not romantic, the way daylight breaks the color
of bullion on this street. magpies shriek the day

awake. Laundromats open their damp mouths
to gargle with coins.

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