Over a no parking sign
painted yellow on black tar
a calico cat with mange
limps through a puddle -- pregnant --
but rain pours down anyway.
Smells of burnt leaves and auto
tires hang, incense smoke in air.
Flagstaff is a motel town
with discount food chains, pay phones
and RV parks crippled drunks
return to, spilling coffee
from both fists after stealing
cups at Days Inn blocks ago.
Vacant lots swallowed in weeds
like old cemeteries sick
with neglect stop at sidewalk's
edge shopping carts, cups and cans
flow along the square cement
into a flooded ravine.
"Flagstaff" scribbled on cardboard
a hitchhiker's sign. Across
the street at Safeway Grocery,
college girls call like turkeys
under a dripping awning.
Their arms swing like pendulums
with the weight of tomatoed
soups in stretching plastic bags.
Gun play echoes down alley
and the bank clock a half block
away displays one minute
before three thirty AM.
I walk home past the burnt couch
on a warehouse dock behind
trailer chimneys that puff wood
smoke humble as corncob pipes.
From the shadows a father
shoulders his son who giggles
when they bump down the gutter
on a squeaking mountain bike.