when the setting suns are the closest burning fires—

the city feels the cold of the sidewalks and the poorest nights

there are bodies between the deadly campers,

they rest on the gravel,

the hard grounds and the depth

of nerves digging deep into the veins,

women living in the wooden walls and watching

through the keyholes,

the children of men,

the rope and the stockings,

the forgotten Polaroid in exchange for the extorted souls

and the pipes,

the sadist is compromising the web of lost bills

and the toxins of masculinity,

the deep hatred of others,

the stolen killers, the slashes across the throat

reek of extremist misogyny,

the bent elbows and the missing officers,

cast in the wrong directions by the deep and pervasive tendrils of racism

they’re weaving their way into the parking lots

and the shopping malls,

the punches and the fates keeping the secrets

tied under the heavy choke chain

the locks and keys

over happy demeanors and

the short definition of trouble

they are letting the knife weave

through the dark,

sending us into the arms

of the grim sleeper.

[painting by Kelly Reemtsen.]

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