Richmond, Monday Morning by Debbie Collins

The Saint Francis Center is hopping this morning,
people lined up all jive and jest

the addicts and drunks and misfits
file in and out, raw around the edges
after a weekend of bingeing

the guy in the wheelchair out front
seems to be singing an opera tune,
the high notes run away from him on little feet,
dancing down the block

the geraniums in their pots flanking the doors
wilt from abuse, their dirt used for more and more
and more cigarette butts, an urban ashtray

above the city din, the air ringing with the
music of trash cans being thrown around,
the opera singer’s aria rises and floats

some visitors sit outside, cardboard signs and
plastic cups arranged before them–
the Center staff tries to lure them back in,
home of rancid coffee and stale platitudes

but most go back out into the world of dirty sidewalks,
dirty asphalt, rushing toward the pop and fire
of a needle, the sweet smell of rot at the bottom of a bottle

they are the kings and queens of the street, the royalty of
the city, all tattered robes and tragic smiles

the week stretches out like a tangled ribbon before them,
almost impossible to unravel

red blue and yellow face masks
Melancholic Masks by Rajasekharon Parameswa. CC license.

Debbie Collins
Debbie Collins lives and writes in Richmond, Va. Her poetry has been published in many online and print journals including Panoplyzine, Third Wednesday, and The Lake. Her first chapbook, He Says I’m Fierce, came out in April 2021.

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