On a side street
on a scorching June day
she wears a winter overcoat.
Days later come Jeana/Donna’s



I am poverty.

My lifestyle is far beneath comfort and safety;
and I’m a captive of continuous distraction.
When I was very young
doctors tried to “fix” me with Ritalin.

It did more damage than good.
Nerves like burnt onion rings,
invisible days,
a choice of too many cigarettes, too little sleep
and a cat who never gets enough to eat ─
a support system of meow, meow.

A man on TV telling me my soul will be saved
if I send twenty bucks ─ after all
what’s twenty bucks anyway?
Well twenty bucks to me is
a week’s worth of yogurt smoothies with a protein kick;
twenty bucks to me is
a month’s worth of bus tickets
with a get-there-and-get-back-window of one hour.

It’s a life I’ve shit for myself.

I’m not wallowing. I’m just facing facts:
waking up today being fifty when yesterday I was twenty-seven.
Years thrown away being somebody somebody else wanted.
My peers drifting away…moving on…disconnecting.

…the disappeared years:
focused on anywhere but my son;
daggers of guilt I have no idea how to handle.
Bad choices. Very bad choices.
And now
the consequences ─
When does resentment end?
When forgiveness?
How long I wonder.

I just want to run away and never look back.

Same pain, different story,
same story, different pain.
We are so fucking cruel.

Listening to myselves,
too serious can undo,
not serious enough, ditto.
Tragedy and comedy abound.
So much of life is hidden
between the worlds of denial and desire,
of fantasy and hopefulness.
Balance seems the quagmire
where success can sprout ─ by risking.
Doing nothing fails ─
backwards, forwards, it doesn’t matter

…’denial or desire’
I am whom I want.
I am Jeana.
I am Donna.

Donna gritted her teeth.
She had been denying for a year.
This time she couldn’t.
She needed…

It wouldn’t take long:
two buses east,
one bus south.
If everything went smooth
she’d be on her way back on the same transfer.
But was anything ever “smoooth” in her life?
Donna bit her lip, bitter blood;
but just this one time.

The bus turned left
in front of the familiar corner
she once frequented daily,
sometimes twice daily.

The bus stopped.
She still had time
to turn around,
to just say “no”.

Donna stood up and walked past the driver.
He nodded ‘good day’.
She stepped down through the door
into a rush of cold air.
Her hands shook in anticipation.

She knew the walk,
she had done it a thousand times:
twenty steps from the bus stop to the right,
six steps left and she was facing the double doors.

A stranger came through the double doors.
The smell wrapped Donna.
How long had she waited for that.

Ten more steps
and she’d be face to face
with a stranger
anxious to take her money.
Her fingers fumbled her pocket
among moments in eternity.

Her trembling hand
the counter.

The air aphrodisiac
she could feel
almost the dark liquid

The stranger’s big blue eyes smiled.

Lips still bleeding,
I uttered,
“Triple Vanilla Latte”.
The stranger replied,
“Thanks for coming to Starbucks.”


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