Sunday, November 29, 2020


 Bridgeport, Chicago

Someone’s cheap suitcase had spilled open on the baggage carousel.
There were toiletries, hair curlers, socks balled into pairs,
Raggedy frayed panties hanging over the edges.
Around and around it went unclaimed
In the dimly lit ground floor of O’Hare.
I stood there in the terminal holding my bag
Waiting for someone to come 
And frantically shove everything back inside.
I stood there watching until all the other bags had been fetched
And I was the last passenger left.
I imagined an sheepish traveler in the shadows
Impatiently waiting for me to go away
So she could retrieve her things in peace.

The boy darted out between parallel parked cars

In front of his south side home

Chasing a ball or a squirrel

Or maybe chasing nothing at all,

Just running, running aimless like a child.  

The van caught him flush and sent him flying

A hundred feet down the street in broad daylight.

They brought him in to the trauma bay

Comatose, cold and pale, with a wobbly tracing

Which quickly went flat.

We split open his chest and his left lung

Spilled out of his empty chest like fileted pink salmon.

Last gasp, we explored his bulging little belly

Hoping to find something to fix or stanch

But the entrails sprung out in a mass

Of diaphanous deep sea anemones.

There was no blood and we never got a pulse

So the chief surgeon declared him dead

Right then and there, just like that

And then stuffed everything back inside

And whip-stitched his open gashes in silence.

I stood to the side and waited for the void

To be filled with some kind of noise---

Wailing sirens as the ER doors opened and closed,

The searing lamentations of a mother, a father,

Waiting down the hall for the worst news of their lives

Or least the beeping of monitors, the whirring of printers or faxes

But no sounds came.

The parents hadn't arrived yet.

Everything had been turned off.

There was just the rhythmic ratcheting of the needle driver 

As the boy was terminally closed.

Once you’re exposed

There’s little incentive 

To cover yourself back up.

You feel it’s too late;

Took everything you had to hold it all in.

All those lonely years,

Layer upon layer of protective gear,

All for naught.

That part takes love

Which isn’t something 

Anyone can control;

You need help.

The next time the suitcase 

Came round unclaimed

I stepped forward and covered it

With an old white tee shirt I’d pried from my bag.

No one deserves to go round and round

Flayed open, naked and raw and true

For all the world to see.


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