The River

I sit on a bench next to the river.
The streets are far enough away
so by the time the sound of traffic
reaches me it massages my back.
I've come here before to figure
things out or just read. Last week
it was a novel I got hooked on,
inhaling every sentence as if they
were lines of coke. Mostly it's just
to look at the river; the tide stays wet,
each wave soaked all the way
through — making it easier for ships
to enter and leave the harbor.
When a page from a newspaper
grabs my ankle like a small dog
I pick it up, crumble it into
a basketball and shoot it into a trash
bin a few feet away as thousands cheer.

I then look across the river past
its banks that in this section of the city
are filled with rock and concrete instead
of cash, to the road and parked cars
where drivers go to come for twenty bucks.
I can almost make out a hooker's head
bobbing up and down in the front seat
as if it were floating on waves.

Dark water keeps most gulls away,
though eagles fly low in a flock
of tattoos on men who work tankers
and tugs. I know enough not to stare
at the water too long since it will pollute
my eyes and turn them brown but it's the only
river I've got. The pigeons that land near
my feet are always gray from rubbing
against sky and when I stomp my foot,
I know they'll fly away full on plans
that never worked out for me.
Plans that became just so many crumbs
I bring to feed them in brown paper bags.

~ Kevin Pilkington

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