silhouette of person walking under white clouds

My sil­hou­ette poured cof­fee on the camp­fire,
then start­ed walk­ing back to town.
This exile was and was not made for me.
My mind was light as lost, walk­ing back home.

Things were gone from South Main.
The bar­ber pole was still there, but,
like black patched pot­holes,
names were scrapped from the win­dow.
Still, I could smell the Brylcreem, feel
the short hairs on my neck get­ting attention.

I won­der if squir­rels still sit
on the old, stone wall fence, watch­ing
chil­dren on the play­ground?
Is Main Street spa­cious or empty?

I heard leaves from a street over,
a voice-wind not speak­ing to me.
A lamp-lit face peered from a win­dow –
point­less, curi­ous – per­haps look­ing for
suf­fer­ing, regret – a com­mon innu­en­do.
Nothing to do with unseen me.

Sometimes, on my knees in prayer,
I let go of my hands,
stretch my arms across the bed,
pull the quilt over my head.

The high, hoarse whis­tle of a train
tells me I don’t know which way it is going.
Damn the aware­ness and suck down
anoth­er shot of obliv­ion.
The trou­ble in this lit­tle town
is how to live nights with itself.

Walking the back­streets, I hear a cat.
A cab cor­ners its head­lights towards me
and I grab the cat up out of the way.
Its heart beats against my palm.

It seems like some­thing great, some­thing safe,
going to sleep in this lit­tle town,
but I can­not con­trol the mus­cle of my heart.
Everything is a sim­i­le to mem­o­ry.
In my wal­let, I car­ry a pho­to of me
that was out­dat­ed yesterday.

This morn­ing a squir­rel chat­ters at me
at some vio­la­tion of pro­pri­ety in this town.
Every morn­ing, the sun strikes my eyes
let­ting me know that God has found me again.

  • Bernard Fraley

    Winchester native Bernard Fraley has worn many hats, includ­ing author, pho­tog­ra­ph­er, painter, poet, reporter, news­pa­per edi­tor, and more. Find some of his books on Amazon.