In the Future All the Heavy Lifting Will Be Done by Those Who Live and Rejoice and Die in the Streets

Photograph by Jose Padua
Among the sad though not the saddest
thing or things I ever saw was when
the transgender junkie on Avenue A
had just lifted a pint of berries from
a corner bodega and opened it up
with a big ready-to-eat smile when
she suddenly got the shakes so bad
every single berry in the pint container
bounced up and out and down to the
busy sidewalk to get stomped on
by all the people passing by and
as I said it was it was sad but
to watch the berries bouncing up
like they were alive was almost
funny and even her junkie eyes
lit up with glee between shakes
as she watched her stolen meal
fall piece by piece to the dirty ground.
The last time I saw her doing her thing
I was six blocks west at the old
Cedar Tavern where she snatched
a twenty from the tip jar and I ratted
on her, telling my friend the bartender
who grabbed the twenty back then
kicked her out, and even though
I’m sure she needed the money more
than either my bartender friend and me
that was one of the bars where I drank
and where I felt I was home and
goddammit no one was going to rip off
my home no matter how strung out
or junk sick and desperate you were.
And I walked back toward my neighborhood,
just as slowly as she snatched the cash
and with my own pockets empty,
wondering almost aloud, and definitely alone,
talking to the stars as if they were priests in church
and I’d become a solemn believer again
which I knew I never would, never could,
asking about all the things I could have done differently,
walking with my tired but steady limbs through sad
puffs of my own cigarette smoke and the aging
bourbon on my breath back to my side of town.

-Jose Padua

Photograph by Jose Padua

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