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The Basement Exit

skylight                                      fever

Down here even sunlight       scuts into the corner
with tassels of dirt               and paper shreds
a torn shoe  useless            even to we drifters
who pile rage after rag                on dry bones
while clouds of waste pile      over us  covered by
weather and sheets of             rain  on one side
the walls missing             bricks garnished with
scraps of signs and             paint  on the other
rows of doors  handleless    splinters spiking from
the locks say                             Exit Only
and otherwise the street  and strangers with houses
lit by bulbs                    and glass  and jobs
with hours and bosses                    while here
the deadline is food and         numbness and where
to find it  how to pay         with flesh or spirit
and then sometimes        the dream of the headless
the usually kindly rats        and the sun  the sun
no longer filtered       through the dirt and waste
but shards of glass              passing through me
sharp as the words in                      my fever
like knives  like cigarette         ends against me

© Neile Graham