Stoop

by Jim Davis

Sitting on the front steps as the rain comes in. Call me
one’s demeanor through the doorway of a yurt, or
entering a psychic’s dojo through glow-string beads, or
talking to a child, or sitting on the steps
drinking Corona, listening to Dusk Ellington play rain.

When I sit I wear a bag on my head, painted like my downstairs
neighbor. Talking too much to a girl with a boyfriend, texting
as the page stipples with hushed early drizzle, warp.
I will map the brain someday. My childhood had a rooster
put to sleep–now there’s no way for me to wake.

Sometimes Sheila comes to sit, three hundred pounds soaking wet,
and she is because she walked here from the bus. She brought
baggies of honey baked ham, spiral cut. I like the smell
of her neck, a mix of sweat and perfume. If I asked her to
name every worm-eating animal, she’d forget me.

When we sit every color’s terra cotta, every shape is butter
lettuce fussing in the breeze. Someone else is living
in my hand-me-down sneakers. My favorite pain is too much
ginger. Tonight if I fall asleep standing up, there will be no noise
to wake me. I am especially regretful, as Sheila is

incapable of love. Music begins in the teeth
of the piano I haven’t bought but imagine hoisted up
the building to a window, where I’d look out over the stoop,
listening as it plays itself into the rhythm of the highway
and the dogs and birds and rain. They told me if you leave the city

you come back haunted. Deign. Stained with gallant imaginings.