James Steck


          ‘They is, they is, they is.’
                           -Tobias Wolff

They is
like stars that realize they’ve already died
and peripherally burn;
a sacrosanct illusion for astronomers
knowing that looking through telescopes
each day is better than
the hangover of someone asking for help
without the safety of the lens;
1/4th smile and a twitching eye
and then there’s
the nothing—
the inaudible
I’m sorry
and an awkward
and no one really knows what to do after that
but keep on walking
and walking and wondering
who could I blame more than myself for that?
On the rooftops of swollen nights
we watch stars die
and peripherally burn
through city streets at dusk
your 16 oz McDonalds cups
empty like an atom held in a hand.
Some ask politely
but we prefer the musicality of fuck you
as rain taps its foot along to a cup of quarters.
I gave a man my lunch;
he looked disappointed;
so did I.


The Commuter

The burnt cigarette
becomes concrete
as I walk down K Street
like homo erectus
disintegrating into dirt
asphyxiating in the halitosis of cars.

I see his grey knees everyday—
his naked torso with its sinuous frame.
He travels East beneath a torn blanket
each morning
we could make a home of a moment
if I ever waited there for him
for long enough.