Cascading Through The Ghettos

Stephen O'Donnell's work has appeared in various publications. He is currently working on his second novel. "Cascading Through The Ghettos" is in Short Circuit #02, Short Édition's quarterly review.

Image of Short Circuit - Short Circuit #02

Down in the belly of the welfare state.
Human shit, on the DART station floor.
The second in so many days
Though the locations have changed.
This one is halfway up the stairs
Just as you begin to sweat.

The Northside is glitchy electro, desperation nights.
Bright yellow buses
Like bad teeth repainted...
Suits clot the corners and gab about shares
Aztec decorations on their cardboard cups.

Sit in silence. And wait and wait
Long hours. Short hours. Stress.
But they cannot shoot you.

Students crowd the summer streets at the narrowest points.
Germans on George's Street, in weird, influenza green-shaded pants.
The sixty-four- and one-half hours of the weekend yawn before us like
something holy, redeeming.

I am the disruption of my own peace.
I am the mind at war with itself.
I cascade through the ghettos.
I write letters from the shithouse.

But that is no way to make a living,
But there's no easy way to go about dying slowly.
Move out to the commuter belts...

The bleak little estates, named for the fields they have swallowed.
The houses all empty during the day
Only seen at dawn and after dark
By the grey faces who live there.

Nothing happens here...
Until it all happens, in a huge wave.
Burst blood vessels, Cirrhotic livers.
Death, in the quiet, crow-cawing afternoon:
Someone lies choking on his own blood, alone on the kitchen floor.
And who brings the children to this abattoir?

Plastic punks stroll the streets, dance butterfly blades
Their movements casual.
Practised a thousand times before the mirror
In the converted attic
While mother ruins the dinner
And the whole house stinks of boiled cabbage.
At night, dread settles in the rafters
Like a thing with wings.
And there is no sleep to soothe it.
And there is no balm to heal it.


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