NaPoWriMo: Day 7…Oi oi…

(Of course, I am still behind, but here is my entry for today!  The formatting is far from correct, but I am having a bit of difficulty with WP today. Poem is still a work in progress…)


Via Ostiense

There’s only one park bench

when you turn that corner

from that train station,


announcing first where you are—

where you might be;


when you turn your back

on that displaced pyramid

of scaffolding, half-cleaned,

butted up against that

cemetery filled with those

people who didn’t belong—

at least to the Vatican;


when you can see a bookstand,

covered by used books and rags,

all bounded up by ropes, propped

up by planks of wood to form

a makeshift table—it’s guarded

by an old man and his would-be

customers or companions;


when can you smell a wall of graffiti,

stained by urine, new and old,

smell cigarettes strewn to create

a mosaic with leftover vomit

from the night before the night

before the night before that,

and smell the people passing by

who never glance even one eye

at either bench or stand—

it’s always like that.


Once the lights of night become

only stars, you learn to fear its dark

corners, unless you’re a tourist or

young or careless or drunk or

drugged or any combination

that might make you feel safe

when it’s late in the city, or perhaps

you’ve already learned that lesson—

perhaps you’re in the midst of it?

No one sits or lays on that bench—

except that man with the scraggly hair,


sadly wild eyes, tattered clothing,

swollen feet, darken face but not Black,

smelling of yesterday and the day before that,

smelling of all that’s missing: a home, family,

friends—still, he’s got his cigarettes, half-smoked

by strangers, collected in a cup mixed in

with coins and no lighter.

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