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Charles P. Ries

BIRCH STREET
 
Sitting on the porch outside my walk up with Elaine
watching the Friday night action on Birch Street.
Southside's so humid the air weeps.
 
Me and Elaine are weeping too.
Silent tears of solidarity.
She's so full of prozac she can't sleep and
I'm so drunk I can't think straight.
Her depression and my beer free our tears
from the jail we carry in our hearts.
 
Neighbors and strangers pass by in the water vapor.
Walking in twos and fours. Driving by in souped up
cars and wrecks. Skinny, greased up gang bangers
with pants so big they sweep the street and girl friends
in dresses so tight they burn my eyes.
 
I can smell Miguel's Taco Stand. Hear the cool
Mexican music he plays. Sometimes I wish Elaine
were Mexican. Hot, sweet and the ruler of my passion,
but she's from North Dakota, a silent state where
you drink to feel and dance and cry.
 
Sailing, drifting down Birch Street. Misty boats,
street shufflers and senoritas. Off to their somewhere.
I contemplate how empty my can of beer is and
how long I can live with a woman who cries all day.
 
Mondays are better. I sober up and lay lines for the
Gas Company. Good clean work. Work that gives me
time to think about moving to that little town in central
Mexico I visited twenty years ago before Birch Street,
Elaine and three kids nailed my ass to this porch.

Charles P. Ries lives in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. His narrative poems, short stories, interviews and poetry reviews have appeared in over one hundred and twenty print and electronic publications. He has received three Pushcart Prize nominations for his writing and most recently read his poetry on National Public Radio's Themes and Variations, a program that is broadcast over seventy NPR affiliates. He is the author of THE FATHERS WE FIND, a novel based on memory. Ries is also the author of five books of poetry--the most recent entitled The Last Time which was released by The Moon Press in Tucson, Arizona. He is the poetry editor for Word Riot (www.wordriot.org ) and on the board of the Woodland Pattern Bookstore in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Most recently he has been appointed to the Wisconsin Poet Laureate Commission. You may find additional samples of his work by going to: http://www.literarti.net/Ries/ .



More writing by Charles will appear in ANGEL HEAD soon.

Improvement makes straight roads, but crooked roads without improvement are roads of genius ~ William Blake.