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Somehow she always finds me,
her favorite "taxi man",
in front of the Omni,
driving slow down Race
or parked, half-sleeping
beside Saint Peter in Chains.
Doesn't matter; she flags me down
or taps the window: "Hey!"
Honey, where you BEEN?"
like it wasn't just the night before
we cruised these same saintless streets,
her keen and tricky eyes on the lookout
for a man, a certain man
who might be walking, might be standing
in a side street doorway, waiting.
A ten or twenty falls on the seat.
"Be right back."
And then she's gone, modern dodger
among the boarded buildings, broken neon,
the shattered glass and shady night.
Tomorrow, yes, and then tomorrow.
You don't ask questions --
there are no questions --
or leave the meter running long.
Instead pretend the glass is diamonds,
the smoke is mountain morning,
the unknown cries, the boop-weeee-boop of sirens,
a song, a chant, an unknown jazz;
the litter scratching dirty pavement
hard traveled tumbleweeds,
the engine clicking
the heart of time.
Tomorrow, yes, and then tomorrow.
I could sleep a hundred days,
a thousand, maybe more.
"Okay, I'm back.
James, take me home."
Moving once again
through town, through light,
the woebegone Ohio
where the blue bridge hums its lullaby,
the rainman bridge,
then new hotels, German brick,
topless bars and shifty men.
"Here! Right here."
Already out the door and walking,
slipping through a city crack.
I will see you then tomorrow
on the dark side of Saint Peter
where the stars no longer show.

(c) Michael Stephens

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