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beale street deadend

I liked you from the start

with your bashful smile

and grime-caked nails,

your nervous hands clutching

each other in muted panic

whenever strangers loomed too close,

whether bearing alms or malice,

to your sacred safe place

by the old subway entrance.


I didn’t know but I should have guessed

the thirstiness that hits you hard

late afternoons when the bars’

dark interiors beckon.

how it sets off a clarion in your skull,

your palms start to tingle and sweat,

and a purpose possesses you,

swallows you whole.


you settle easy for a spell,

briefly anaesthetised,

disconnected from the world’s clamour

by the clear cool contents of a glass.

a moment of clarity

when it all makes sense

and then, before I know it,

you’ve become someone else

and I’m as unnecessary

as I’d always suspected.


Photo of Beale Street, Memphis from Belinda