MADISON SQUARE PARK, 5:29 A.M.
by Larissa Shmailo
Dawn: I wake in the park, face puffy and red;
Liquid, brown tallboys, broken glass, at my head.
The bench is cool, my shoes are gone, my fishnet stockings torn;
I wish I were elsewhere, lived differently, was safe, or never born.
Policemen tell me, broke and blackly bruised, to move along;
I find cardboard in the garbage, make a sign, sing a song.
A teenager stops, sings with me, and blushing, averts his eyes;
Women pass, scorn me, prouder than they’d be otherwise.
A businessman winks, gives nothing; a serviceman gives a buck.
Men hang out windows; one screams obscenities from his truck.
What some men will hit on, eagerly, still astonishes me;
You are never too sick, too dirty, or too old, apparently.
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