Mélange, Minor Meander
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A Mass for Coffin Nails

I

She emerges

Four, five, six

Times a day maybe

For a five minute escape

I know because I smell the smoke

Acrid

Chafing the crystal air

She fills the street with it

Her deep blue pluming despair

Blow out

Breathe in

Each puff a day she’d rather forget

Yet the days stain her like tar does

Fingertips

II 

Wouldn’t she like to open her mouth

And let her worries fly out

Through a rent in the air

Tiny black sparrows stretching their wings until

White doves fill the sky

But they sit and sink rough talons into soft flesh

Dance like devilish jokers upon the tight line that is her lips

III

I can see by the way she stubs the butts out

Against the littered pavement

Where turning autumn leaves congeal with the discarded debris of a thousand stilted souls

By the way she wears that frown

Criss-crossing her forehead

By the way she leans into the wind

Pulling her jacket tighter

Trying to protect the chest she poisons from the wind

She puts the weight of her life – decades of desperation – into that lean

As she has become used to doing

A slanted meridian aches forward

Slowly

Across the streets crimson latitude

IV

Finally she arrives at her doorstep

The eternal point of pass over

Pauses

Briefly

Wrenches open the door leading back inside

Happy to be inside

Happy for the thin protection grey walls offer

Happy for domestic distraction

Until in maybe an hour or two

Her worries have piled up

Bubbling in her bile

And she shudders outside to relieve herself of her weight

A diminutive affair with life

Kneeling to death

V 

Shrugging and smoking

Smoking and shrugging

An hour has passed and nothing has changed

Perhaps the day has lost its pink

For all I know she continues to smoke the same cigarette

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