The Hookers of Mt. Vernon Bridge (poetry)

The Mt. Vernon bridge will be destroyed
next year
and all the hookers will have to strut
the Santa Fe diesel yard instead.

Some of them will fall on the tracks,
get run over by trains that don’t run anymore,
and their sisters will have to tell their pimps
the unbelievable tale.

The pimps will beat the girls over the ghost trains
until they get superstitious about it,
inquire of the urine-soaked mystic
who works the empty storefront
of what used to be a boutique
for children’s baptism dresses,

For five dollars she’ll confirm a curse
and justify them—
tell them to go on beating the girls
but that they must kiss their rosaries
with each crack of the belt,
each break of a glistening rib,

they must force the girls to read a prayer
off the back of a dollar store bleeding Jesus candle
when otherwise they would have held each other
naked and cried
for a mortal mama who would not come.

They should go on beating the girls.
The mystic shrugs and rolls an addict
wrapped in a government blanket
out of her shady spot

They should go on beating the girls
because what can you do
in a town that wants to survive so badly
despite all the young mothers
and trains and pimps and saints
telling it to lie down and die
to hush now and sleep
to rock-a-bye baby
to shut the fuck up, stop crying, and close its eyes.

-M. Ashley

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