POEM from Jason Hardung

Aisha sat on the ledge and bummed a smoke
from me
taut chin poking in and out
like pigeons strutting.
Her half-smile, corridors cut by crack.
Lips blistered like
pictures of venereal diseases
on free clinic walls.
Pissed on walkways. Her remaining teeth
tall buildings that laugh.
Early mornings ring tinny bird coos
delayed so they sound
like her baby abandoned calling her back.
Sunlight metallurgy the spark
that creates the weld that locks her cage.

A recent study proved
that pigeons are smarter than
the average three year old. I wonder
how old the pigeons are? And
are they the same ones that pick Aisha's afro
in front of the Buttonwood Tree when she finally sleeps?
Or are the ones that flew in the war
with messages tied to their leg
and purple hearts pinned to their bloated chests?

You good at poetry? Aisha asked.
I felt ashamed to be good at anything at that moment.
I was ashamed that I ate that day
and could eat later if I wanted to.
Ashamed I was white and wore deodorant
my socks matched
and had a place to sleep.
Ashamed I never had to get on my knees
between dumpsters to forget
I was human.
Ashamed I couldn't give her a big fat rock
so she could inhale the blues
and blow out
five minutes of hope.
I'm not very good at poetry.



Jason Hardung has been published in various small presses. He gave up on the hope of gas prices and rides his bike through the utopian streets of Ft. Collins, Colorado while his cat waits at the window.