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.
Underage prostitutes walk past the costume shop in hundred degree heat One happily remembers to the other how she went as Cinderella in third grade
how the lace collar itched
how her hoop skirt got tangled as she crawled through her church’s lame haunted house
how a friendly churchman, the one who baptized her who was on excellent terms with her mother, lifted her out of the cardboard box Tunnel of Doom, took a long time to untangle her skirt, then commented how the itchy lace collar was pretty—
In a bigger city, later in life, I would visit the first floor of World’s Largest Porn Store and, the same evening, all three floors of the purple neoned Madame X. On this day, however, a little after 1pm, Bill and I pulled into the parking lot of the little porn store on Highland, the one we grew up walking past with its cream painted windows, wind beaten sign, and handy bus stop access. He and I sat in his red secondhand Jeep with the engine running and air conditioning on, “I will if you will” daring each other to go in.
But then we had to get going or we’d miss sixth period gym.
A line of palm trees standing demure before the great purple face of the city’s eponymous mountains god-gifted with resort quality snow.
Behind the trees, glinting and sprawling like the many mansions of God are the warehouses of Stater Bros. markets, their trucks lining the city’s eponymous avenue ready to serve it first, before serving the rest of the southern half of the state.
Industry portrait of one local boy done good— chamber picture of the wished-for city.
We are not the arsonists of August nor the fire-pushing winds of pre-fall. We are the burnt black hills of November in the hot, short shadow of which we gather our families in thanksgiving that from us the doomed young grasses of March will grow to blue the sky for a month and draw foreign shepherds here to graze their great flocks of bell-ringing lambs.