By Buddy Gray

i am one acquainted with the nite

From my growing up years in the country, To my adult life in the inner-city

i began with the very dark—unless moonlit—nites,

with people all asleep

And crickets---1000’s it seemed—chirping their screeky, leggy noises,

And occasionally—in the wee hours of the nite---long distance soulful whistle of the train,

blowing for a crossing—long and deep,

THEN to the city, at first hard to sleep,

Since, it seemed, there were always People and Machines that never sleep,

All beneath my 4th floor window—echo-ing between the concrete streets and rows of tall brick buildings,

Voices in Stress, Or High or in Terror,

Fighting intoxicated, or children playing late on concrete, or hot-muggy polluted summer + poverty stress,

Many nitely screams of our city’s WOMEN being battered,

On lonely, unsafe, nite streets—or echoes imprisoned in an apartment with an abuser.

Cops—often siren-maniacs-racing dangerously down dark, skinny, populated streets

Going the wrong way down one-way streets chasing one individual.

The flood of voices and cars of the Well-To-Do in evening gowns-oblivious to the social stress,

Ending their social event-in the wee AM hours- from Music Hall across the street.

JUST before dawn- the whirring, brushing sound—of the city’s street sweeper.

Through many ALL-Niter work projects at the shelter, or sleepless, tossing nites, i’ve heard and seen it all.


Copyright Homeless Grapevine Issue #18, Cleveland, Ohio