Waking Up in the Dark

by Kevin Ridgeway

I walk into a morning bathed

in the flicker of street lights

prior to the false hope

of a new dawn. I’m among

drug addicts, drug dealers

and prostitutes, never to give

them my money again,

money I intend to spend at 7-11

on coffee and an overpriced pack

of Chesterfields, two things

I enjoy while sitting

on a curb and writing

poems in the gutter,

where everything

has gotten to be too real

for me as I watch the world

slowly tumble apart

all around me. I had

begun to discover myself

for the first time, like

a talent agent who was going

to make himself the biggest star

in the world. A homeless

woman sits down next to me

on a bus stop bench and asks me

if I have any shit she can smoke.

I tell her never again would

I be lost in the fog

of a paranoid howl

in the alleyways she still

ran up and down

as we become illuminated

by the sun in order to see

the dirty truth all around us

so I can rub it into a weary

and forgotten prayer.