“To Chicago, or Heaven?” by Damian Rucci

On the corner of West 39th and Bell,
below the amber street light by the bookstore
I see you, Victor Smith,
reading beneath the moon.
We walk down Roanoke road
as you read me your poems—
I’ve never heard your voice but tonight
it is made of silk and bourbon.
Victor Smith, why have you come back here?
Why are you a vision in this late night stupor?
Where does the Midwest wind blow?
To Chicago
or to heaven?
How many street poets
know the devil by name?
I know, you’ve never claimed to be a teacher,
but tonight your words are gospel.
Victor, can dog-faced saints know serenity?
How many junkies have sold their last stanza
for a glimpse at the sun?
How many vagabonds have hopped trains
through cowtowns and became preachers
under their bridges?
How many cold lonely nights make a prophet?
Why do they always die alone?

____________

Damian Rucci is a friendly neighborhood degenerate who sells books on street corners

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