Complaint 61.4

Approachable Pedestrian
by Bradley David

      Approachable Pedestrian
Great for strangers getting off the
L, struggling maps for north
Western Ave or west North Ave
Blue Line dumping us off on a
spinning compass  Up dirty tiles and
salty steps to solar flares  Blue mailboxes
shrugging dogs off their legs
I always had trouble with Wicker Park
Looked like a tourist on my own block
Don’t rob me  I already can’t make sense of this
Part of my therapy is accepting cities  Their
existence  Their morphology  The way
they change  So quickly  You’d think they
change slowly like their policies  But crime
goes up overnight  Like rising policies
Like bad architecture  It’s not architecture  It’s
plywood giving plywood a bad name
Stronger than condos  Guilty by association
      My space in the Flatiron was sure some
crazy intersection  Across from Stan’s
square donuts filled with what?  Biscoff?
Like a United flight? Like United Center
off Blue Line off Medical Center  Just a hair pull
down Fig to United Field  So much is united
now that so much is disjointed  Like chocolate-backed Biscoff
from the Asian market in Alhambra  Now that’s an
approachable poet laureate  That’ll pull your teeth
through a blissful six month survival
This full-circle donut didn’t mess with edges
That live-work wedge on North Ave was a
magnificent mix of freaks  Queer dolls
pulling themselves toward fire escapes
with real teeth  Foiled ghosts and
communal showers for lost flip-flops
Sticky cagey elevator  Brass mail slots
Spiney drunks snoring into a marble echo
      Maintenance showed me a place
more dark and dust than room  Which is often
appealing but creepy when the occupant isn’t dead
Yet  He said I could paint  He’d even empty the ash tray
That wouldn’t take the smell away  You can’t
paint over death once you know it’s
looking over your shoulder  Grading
your papers and disagreeing with your furniture
People die  I get it  Places go up for rent
But they do have to die first  and then of course
rents go up  So I grabbed a small space with
no obvious stories
fresh paint and old hardwood  The kind of varnish
that stinks like cat piss  I don’t mind  My grandfather
worked in a flooring mill  Other grandfather
romanced sliced lumber like wedding cake and
slaughtered cat-piss spruce like it gave him life
Once a tractor sank in the mud  irretrievably  invisibly
So tractor became trail and trail became rust and
rust became clay and clay became pot and
pot met our gaze  We saw tractor in its luster like
the eyes of grandfathers  We ought to pave our
next mess with Bimmers and Mercedes
I wish I’d thought of that at the time
I might have lied and told the tired keychain that
grandfather cut and milled that floor  He might have
cut me a break with that old line
      I would say wood is in my blood  And
when you’re running out of trees
it feels like you’re coursing with splinters
Your heart flutters with nowhere for the birds
Hard to imagine a hometown  Stripped of pine
exporting basketball court floors  And in Chicago
just down the road  the leather factory made
Superbowl footballs  I don’t care about sports
I care about trees  And I think about old floors
after those grand buildings endure renovation  For
the greater good or some such fib  Like safety
      I’m beginning to hate gray
Warmth is still out of style  Try adding it to your
poetry and pottery  See how that lump gets swallowed
They’ll say the work lacks the modernism
that obfuscates obvious angles  Hardwood should
look like laminate  Durable and consistent  Poetry should
look like pottery  Shattered and spilling content  But
arranged  Glued and grouted  And a stranger
should be stranger and it’s cool to look confused
Not too mapped or approachable or pedestrian  But
I wouldn’t dare put words to pottery
and old floors still look alive

And I’m not complaining

About the dead

I love the sound of it all

Bradley David’s poetry and prose appear in Plainsongs, SEISMA, Porridge Magazine, Stone of Madness, Epoch Press, and Spuyten Duyvil Dispatches Editions. New work is forthcoming in Fruit Journal, Milk & Cake Press, Torrey House Press, and Sagging Meniscus Press.

Image by pexels at Pixabay.

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