Allen Shadow

Sitting On a Guardrail in the Shadows of Early Morning


America, you oozed out a vent
in a red blinking lounge
on old Franklin Street, Lansing
just a pig again

you hopped a yellow cab
ran through a double-wide—
dusty photos leaning
all manner of mail left wanting
rape screams of yesteryear hanging 
like motes in the air

you climbed into the rear 
window of a defunct haberdasher
numb as a wrench, and there—
hands turning in slow ratchets 
just like the years—
rearranged the past
like racked suits
only to climb off death
like a fake elephant
making its way downstairs

you can’t, you can’t
hide behind the sun,
America, pretending you’re
a failed matinee idol—
no, no, we see your veiny roads
your dope eyes
we hear your dead fathers
speaking in a dog’s voice
at the end of the driveway

Sitting On a Guardrail in the Shadows of Early Morning

Sitting on a guardrail in the 
shadows of early morning, plastic 
store bag swung across a leg

Eyes that burn still from Alta Verapaz
and the gunfire of street gangs—
even now in the Catskill whiskey night
all through the gauze of the blue motel
where the next-door girls laugh
cementing the loneness of time

The trudging up the hill mornings
to the tire shop, shirt black as all 
the yesterdays, the cars all running just fine
in a direction you’ve never been

And only this again—
the stopping in the shadows—
this time maybe never go back
or maybe take a tire iron
pin the boss back to the wall
so far he will be you

ALLEN SHADOW is a poet and fiction writer. Bronx born, he currently lives in upstate New York. His published poetry includes two chapbooks; the latest: “America, I’ll Have My Way With You” (Casa del Pueblo Press, 2015). His poems have appeared or are forthcoming in The Broadkill Review, Alexandria Quarterly, I-70, Waymark, and the New York Times. He graduated from Lehman College, where he studied poetry with Pulitzer Prize-winning poet James Wright.