Dave Hughes: The Easy Hour

The last brown leaves rustle.
As the clean cold, quiet air of a city asleep fills my nose.
Winter is rushing in.
I can see it in the sharpness of the chimneys,
And can feel it,
An urge for warm arms and easy evenings.

I adore this, the last dead hour.
The chill sets my pace,
The blanket of night is pulled close,
It covers our beauty as it covers our shame.
Ahead the florid light of an alley splashes out upon the street
And a silhouette turns in it, like a suicide on a rope.

I watch her stuttering tango.
She starts and stops with her invisible partner.
She spies me as I hurry past the alley,
Her working hands on working hips.
She’s been made more times than my bed
And her vacant stare escorts me from her life.

The moon has teeth, I could tell you better than most
I have frittered the days of my life,
Mortgaging the sun, to bask in his lunar leer.
False street signs to manhood now litter my arms,
No longer memorials to personal greats
But mementos of missed opportunities.

For once no shouts or horns pollute the stillness,
Only my hurry home steps echo, thrown back by the brick facades.
This is their only respite from the city’s daily din.
As even now the sickly fingers of a winter dawn
Pull themselves house by house down Chicago Avenue
Intent on silencing my midnight serenade.

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