The Silence

It was the silence that caught my attention
Gliding through the streets like a hungry fog
Seeking without needing to know why
Gently choking the lights into submission

I walked down that empty alley with purpose
Even though I lit a cigarette as I began
Knowing full well I would be tossing it to the ground
Twisting it under my worn heel like a disobedient child

When the door opened and he stepped out
I could smell the air escaping from behind him
Scented like a sweaty southern Baptist congregation
On a hot afternoon after an especially long and fiery sermon

I took another drag from my nagging accessory
As I watched him turn the corner and exit this story
His cameo had played out like so many others before him
Each one a guest star in a life bearing no credits of note

The stairwell was lit by an anemic green light
A combination of twenty year old fluorescents
And the choices of a second-rate interior designer
Who’s idea of quality pigmentation was rivaled only by the peeling paint

The door at the top of the stairs had been left open
As if to invite any sort of stranger to come and partake
Unacquainted spectators to the final curtain of an esoteric stage show
That found its audience indifferent to its immaterial destination

I knelt before her as anyone would kneel before a reverent act
My own observances unaffected by the horrendous exhibition before me
Except for a brief nod in recognition of yet another street lamp gone out
One less weak starlight to throw the moths off course on their nocturnal journeys

My camera flashed intrusively into the pallid moment
Capturing every detail in all its obscenity
The hair matted with the salty mixture of tears filled with a lifetime of regret
The blue, cracked lips of a whore with no lipstick still parted in a final gasp for breath

I fire up another cigarette as I reach the bottom of the stairs
In the distance I can hear the city breathing again
Cars, horns, a dog barks, an anonymous siren in the distance wailing in distress
The silence has moved on, but it’s not gone and I’m not far behind it

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