Jolee Davis THEY DON’T SING, THEY SCREAM

when the wind is just right
you can smell the flowers in the trees
mixing with the chicken shack on the corner
like some exotic Asian slum
cherry blossoms and fish markets
hear a crow’s screams murdering
the songbird of a new day

a junkie at my door
the weeds pouring out from the bushes
the trash floating in from the crumbling apartments
next door, along with music and gunshots
a beer bottle broken on the curb
a half pulled circle around a stump
the indoor/outdoor carpet impossibly
glued to my front porch

I was alone
with the dog, biting imaginary fleas
the sound of her devouring
the shaking repetitive thump and gnaw
reminded me of childhood
when their brains began to rot and
their blood went bad
we are all connected by blood

I can never quite look a blackbird in the eye
in poetry they represent death

when the wind is blowing, you notice the smell
in  poor neighborhoods there are roses in every yard
the bushes overgrow and they die on the first hot day
I walk up displaced slabs of concrete called sidewalks
I walk up streets of ditches
I walk up mountains of desperation
down valleys of shrinking walls
I light another cigarette
there’s always another cigarette
the dollar store’s on the corner
holding wretches in its arms
bums curled in the corners
they no longer look at you when you pass
their eyes glassed over with amnesia
we are yearning to breathe free
but our yearning is more like begging
ten Ramons for a dollar
forty ounce $1.29
our life filled with numbers
we should have been mathematicians
calculating how much we owe versus how much we have
a pack of smokes or food
we are the physicists of the world
chaos and uncertainty
all of our dreams tied up to next month’s rent
and our dreams are cheap
hope, the cheapest of them all
letting go is as easy as slipping into a bath
as long as the gas bill has been paid
if it hasn’t, you stand bare-assed
sloshing cold water on your cunt
and eat food out of containers
it’s like camping, right?
it’s like the cold water flats of New York
it’s like the dues you pay for your art
it’s like a delusion
it’s like reality
it’s like death

he walks by me with a beer in his hand
he loves me
what that means is…I can’t save you
maybe the pills can
how long before they kick in
before survival at all costs
the chemical lobotomy
the smile, though Rome’s on fire
dance as it all burns
do it for love
wouldn’t be the first time
I’m never the first
but I’m usually the last
that last bitch I was married to
the last chick I fucked was crazy
the last in a long line of lasts
last night, a sigh in the middle of the night
the dream is there
the one where no one is really sleeping
but we’re all falling
wallowing in our hypocrisy like a baptism, righteous
listening to NPR at work
listening as the babies are being pulled from the rubble, dead
earthquake remixes, aftershocks synchronized with
mothers screaming
wails of the void
we should be grieving, have a nice day
do you want a receipt
what are we doing for lunch
and they’re screaming halfway around the world
and they’re screaming beside you, at night
three a.m., they’re grieving and screaming
inside you
and I didn’t realize it was me
until he held me
whispering that everything was going to be okay
if we grieve, we die
brown leather restraints and enough medication
to sedate an artists’ colony

I can’t explain it all away
I’ve had friendships called on account of bad vibes
I’m the great reminder
we cannot be saved from our own smallness
we are a few handwritten pages
in the back of a motel bible
there is no salvation
in a venti latte and a full tank of gas
our iPods can’t drown out the ocean of suffering
and if you smell the roses, then keep going
because we’re in the wrong part of town
the birds don’t sing here
they scream

 
 
Jolee Davis writes:
In 2006, I formed Project 108, a non-profit corporation dedicated to supporting underground poets and artists. I am also the founder and editor of Death List Five (voice of the lunatic fringe), an underground art/literature magazine. I’ve had work published on Mad Swirl’s poetry forum. My latest chapbook, Self Righteous Cunt, was completed this year. I have been a featured performer, most recently, for Word Space and Poets on X+ @ Mighty Fine Arts gallery.

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