Here Both City Governments and Private Charities Try to Provide Shelters For the Homeless But There Is Never Enough Money
There is not a corner left,
in this cramped city
that is not selling me something,
that I don’t want or can’t afford
I’m promised, I need.
I hate this time of year, I say,
passing the ads that tell me
I’ll never be happy without a diamond.
People are assholes, he says,
as we push and pull and elbow
our way into the bookstore.
The line has wrapped around the store and the heat
is stifling. Even the music reminds me
that now is the time for family and friends
and being together
And buying shit, he reminds me.
What’s the point, he says, picking up a book
and putting it back down.
Want to go to the bar, he asks.
We leave, pushing our way past the long line
passed the haggard sales associates
and outside where we
pass the same homeless man
that we see each week, leaning against the railing
next to the No Solicitations sign by the church.
The cup in front of him is empty,
but he’s smiling and waving to everyone who passes.
Have a good weekend, he calls out.
He’s cheery as hell and it’s killing me.
Help at the homeless he asks?
Help the homeless?
Have a good weekend everyone.
Happy Holidays, he says.
Help the homeless?
In a Country Like Ours Which Generates Such Mountains of Waste One Considers With Horror Where General Littering Will Lead
The mylar balloons are twisted
into the small row of hedges
snarled like a rat in a trap
deflating on themselves
so that it takes a moment to read
and Miss You
and Love You
Below that is a ripped styrofoam cup
a candy wrapper
a sheet of newspaper
stuck to a cheap plastic cross
bearing a name
and two dates
and the cold knowledge
that the cemetery
and the bus stop
where people just
with their own lives
dropping their papers
and cups when the bus arrives
to take them away,
these two way stations,
these two ferries to the unknown
too close together.
We barely care for the living, why bother with the dead?
But By Our Lawns Are We Judged
Every morning, all of my life,
I have seen him out on his lawn,
stooped over picking up leaves, sticks, rocks,
bent and bagging cuttings,
his pants stained green.
And once, I saw him late at night,
a scissor in his hand
on all fours
clipping with as delicate a hand
as any barber
evening out each individual blade.
Ally Malinenko’s second book of poem Crashing to Earth is forthcoming from Tainted Coffee Press and her first novel for children, Lizzy Speare and the Cursed Tomb was recently published by Antenna Books. She lives in the part of Brooklyn the tour buses don’t come to but was voted to have the best halal truck. These poems are part of the How To Be An American series that she’s currently working on. All the titles are derived from media sources and commentary on how Americans act/are/say/do/be.