night city
Ian McBryde
The Whisper-Stream
For Andrew Vachss

No city sleeps. Weeds defeat concrete. The blood
runs and everyone comes from elsewhere, citizenless,

without an address. The midnights pass. Wheels spin,
sleek vehicles peel off just before the lights go green.

Justice weeps for itself, alone at home, wherever that
once was, if ever. Blackness gathers, falling on these

red rooms, this darkened carnival. One will stay, one
hastens away. High-rises wait. Abandoned blocks exhale,

safer places hold their breath. That which heals us also
rips us in half. The cruel bruise, the rack, the broken

back. Scarred shoulders in mirrors. The slaughterhouse
calmness of tired men lunching with their stun guns

on the table. The cave, the castle; there is no difference.
Long splashes of shadow over single women breasting

their children close in cold, lonely kitchens, believing
nothing they are told. Racks of candles reduced to stubs

in untended empty churches where there is nothing left
to confess. Bandages, triage, sirens. The dripping wall.

Everyone in hell wears kevlar. We all are coming back
from nowhere. Regret. Revenge. Truth rules the gutters.

All of us arriving in from nameless, nightshift places.
Blood runs. The messages are banking up. No city sleeps.

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