The dirt was all that moved there:
it was the only thing that changed.
It was dust filtering through bent screens,
a brown light, grainy—
drifting and staying, soft as a hot blessing.
It was packed hard, roads of rouge,
cracked ruddy old.
Rain bullet-holed it, turning the worn paths upside down
spilling blood-heavy into potholes.
Mud clung to the chicken wire,
splattered the porch steps:
one loose, one missing,
one house without any.
We pulled in, mud no longer mud,
just rock-hard, forsaken.
Looked like the sky had rained dirt hail.
We’d come in with the electric storm:
God’s mean answer to this year’s prayer.
Cookie said meet him out front.
Two men two doors up drank beer
in a ’49 Mercury,
blue glow in a dead heat.
We were whispering, couldn’t help it.
Something about that albino moon
foraging the sky for food.
It acted like a thing that shades.
Put us in a black spot, blacker than black—
a hard shadow.
He broke the dark at last.
A feeble hint of light
at a crack in the door,
it opening like an old man’s mouth
black with tobacco,
a few yellow teeth showing through.
It’s getting later all the time.
We drove out of Little Mexico
crushing the stiff mud,
turning right towards Saturday Night,
towards the wide lighted streets.
[From the Along the Gulf series, published in The Panhandler]