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The cat's in her crate in the back seat, dying.
I must wait, know vaguely where we are,
that the river curls nearby,
knots the truncated streets.
But my west and east are suspect, tend
to skew the world.

I stand, strangely tiptoed in the gutter,
my new shoe soles embracing the curb curve.

There's no bluegrass on this street
not even in the pavement tufts
or the weedy chalky concrete.
I have lessened my demands
and would settle for blue-ish, just a hint,
one blade in twenty;
sacrifice my child hope for waves
of azure to a pony's knees.

There are bricked dusty boxes
and the smell of the sluggish Ohio.
I can't see from here
the smeared paint on the door panels
with the wobbly edges of an inexpert hand
slopping catsup red on white.


They're too proud to wear hearing aids
but not to shout in public
of Thelmer's constipation, Bobby's two-bit whore.
And three twenty-five is too much
for a plate of spaghetti
no matter that half rides home boxed.

Roundball team went and hired
an uppity negro coach,
careful to say it that way, nee-gro,
just a shade worse than the Eyetalian boy
no matter they won and won.

(Baseball's got spics though;
you can still say spics,
have none next door.)


I should have been sitting
face to face with the grate
singsonging lies in falsetto.
But I know that cat. She is wiser
than my self-deception,
would inch claws through, beg
not to die so apart, not here.


He fights to free himself
from clinging wet kisses,
complaints that he never calls
to come to me in the street.

Out to the lack of blue,
the tobacco smudgy sky,
to the car where our cat lay
dying in this foreign town,
all for my want of a map.