Puma Perl

I don’t know if my friend David Smith
died as he wished,
a white dove shooting from his mouth

This morning I woke wondering how close
the end is and which books to read
while I still have a chance

My only hope
is that the dog goes first
She’s not even mine and

I’m not anybody’s
My kids deserve the relief
of unburdening my weight

if I ever grow as heavy
as my mother, or my father,
confused, peeing in the doorway

In Bodega Alley, the vet sits
in his wheelchair, surrounded
by clothing and umbrellas

His friend folds up the tent
Invisible city
down here at the bottom

Manhattan hides behind
cranes and jackhammers
We buy bodega coffee and dollar bagels

Diva waits by the fence, an unoccupied
blue beach chair left by her side
Nobody touches another’s property in Bodega Alley

People know what is theirs
An open umbrella in sunlight,
a radio playing Harold Melvin

Wake up everybody
Hurricanes to the south of us
Construction northeast and west

Down here at the bottom
It looks the same
The children of nobody sleep in the alley

The men play dominos on the corner
Wheelchairs cruise down the block
Diva waits for her buttered bagel

At home, I hear from a friend
She says she’s dying
We all are, I think

Unsure of how to leave
before the party ends


PUMA PERL is a widely-published poet and writer, and has four solo collections in print. She is the producer and creator of Puma Perl’s Pandemonium, which brings spoken word together with rock and roll, and she performs regularly with her band Puma Perl and Friends. She’s received three New York Press Association awards in recognition of her journalism, and is the recipient of the 2016 Acker Award in the category of writing.