“the faces in shadow,
deep creases of gloom.”
They may be thirteen, homeless,
or about to be. Cadge cigarettes
on street corners, 40’s, when first
of the month money feels free.
Wear ragged, cut-off, short shorts,
nearly transparent tees and older
sister’s padded bra, five years from
fully developed, ten from silicone
injected. Always travel in packs,
never less than a pair, thinking
safety in numbers, unaware of how
the street wolves are adept at cutting
strays from the herd. Try to maintain
a modicum of innocence,
but once a line has been crossed,
there is no bottom limit on how far
down they can go, how many different
ways they can be transacted, abused,
shared, instructed in all the dark arts
a body can bear. If they make it
through their teens, they will have
lived all the movements of a requiem
mass, their Deus Irae, a rap chant
for mother fuckers, street ho’s, and
cash money deals. Paint themselves
into a dressing room corner where
they apply false eyelashes, too much
makeup: red lipsticks and blush,
serviceable until their looks give out.
The lucky ones die young.
Alan Catlin has published over sixty chapbook and full length books of poetry and prose. His most recent book of poetry is Wild Beauty from Future Cycle Press. Hic chapbook Blue Velvet won the 2017 Slipstream Chapbook Contest and, from the same series of books, his chapbook, Hollyweird was published by Night Ballet Press.