This clapboard tenement complete
with druggie roommates, broken locks,
and a view of a sewage beach
is the worst of your many rentals.
Visiting frightens me. Tattoos
wink in shadows. Nose and lip rings
clatter as the young people fondle
whatever bodies they can reach.
The reek of poisoned rats in the walls
sours my breath as I climb the stairs
to find you sprawled weeping in bed.
Let’s walk on the sorry gray beach.
At least the surf breaks with sighs
we understand. The green rollers
clutch at the mess, then withdraw
with satisfying hiss of pebbles.
Put on your clumsy boots and big
peasant skirt in memory
of your hippie youth and walk with me
in an ultraviolet radiance
that will enflame your old-fashioned
but still utile good looks. The day
won’t last. An oil tanker scores
the horizon. Even from here
I can tell the crew is scanning
the shore for a glimpse of you.
Let’s go. One of your roommates
has overdosed, and soon like the rats
will stink up the hallway. Pack
your last belongings and walk
as far as the old pier where dead
fish loll in the wash and couples
nosh French Fries and giggle
in tones we could emulate
while dark smokes up from the mud
to fill your pores and heal you.