14 February, 2012

No Martyrs Here

There are no martyrs here – only a drunk without a bar
in a city where one should either be drunk
or between a woman's warm thighs
(or both) in order to stave off
the soul cold wind blowing down
from Capitol Hill. 1 St NE
is a ghost town on Sundays;
the arctic chill whistles through
empty church pews, and underneath
the caged locked doors of the liquor store.
The National Gallery is overrun today
by cynical skirt chasers posing as romantics
and women looking either for that movie moment –
or maybe just better jewelry.

And if I sound cynical, ignore me. The onslaught
of Hallmark cards have slaughtered my sensibilities,
render me incapable of appreciating the emotive nuance
of proposing to someone in front of a Van Gogh,
who lost his ear for love, they say. Nowadays,
he'd have to sign over his 401K
or proclaim his love on television.
And then, the hooker would still charge
her hourly rate.

There are no martyrs here – only broken old men
looking for God or some rough equivalent,
sleeping in bus stations and under overpasses
everywhere across America. God I tell them,
is a bum that gives away loose change
and menthol cigarettes,wanders half crazed
on civilized and unforgiving streets.
The wine is cheap, they say but
the grace is grand, and the path
to a warm safe bed is a sacred calling.