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