Witness, waiting.

orange and yellow bokeh lights

The tracks uncross, uncoupling the stars in our eyes. It is late and the light won’t train toward the alley by the liquor store on Broadway. Saturday night leaks greasy blues against neon signs for lotto prizes and fast-food payday loans. The discount tire guy waves and falls, to be raised again, a blow-up Lazarus. Alive. 

The buzz of broken streetlights reminds that everyone is hanging as you are, by the thread to which we’ve tied some whispered prayer. Give us this day, our daily bread––no, never mind, take it back. Regrets fur like smoke at the crosswalk, teasing, Go. Not Yet. Hurry. You’ll miss it again.

My eyes hurt. Show me one thing blooming. Here they are, cellophane-wrapped with other plastic-plated symbols of significance, ready for purchase, bright tokens. Pang of grief, but you work with what you have. The hungry eye learns to make do. The gas station oasis lit to magnify the lines on the faces in line, we avert our eyes in respect for one another’s naked needs. 

If not this day again, give me something. I pay to spill back onto Broadway. Beneath the glow of a No Vacancy sign, I wait to cross, sated now, the stems in hand. There are others on foot, and we stand at the banks. Not yet, don’t go. You can feel something hold us by the words we still won’t speak, nudging toward the next chance to give it all away.

Author: Stacey C. Johnson

I keep watch and listen, mostly in dark places.

7 thoughts on “Crosswalk”

  1. Not that Hot Tuna was/is a great band, but your rendering of this hesitation blues is so accurate, conveying what the song failed to dig into, that the idea of the crosswalk now has a new high tide mark along the beach of our collective anxiety.

    1. Richard. Thank you. (and I never knew them, so had fun looking up hesitation blues). : ) You phrase this beautifully.

    1. Thanks, Jeff. This blow-up discount tire guy shows up with some regularity in some drafts of other things, but never as a Lazarus, until now. : )

      1. He’s so ubiquitous, I’m a little disappointed that I never thought to use him. In one of my stories, he’d probably be me, stumbling drunk. When he show up, I’ll give you credit.

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