In Scranton

by Rosa Sophia, 2009

When you’re running
don’t run
to Scranton
don’t trip and fall
in reeking gutters
don’t stop for gas
or lose yourself
you’ll have to face

hunched-over strangers
“Please, I’m so hungry
Do you have any
money?
Do you have any
money?
I live under a
bridge. Please, please
help me.”

Here’s a fiver.
I don’t stop to think
she could be lying
just a poor
piece of shit
trying to get
cigarettes
nicotine
saves her life
keep her
from
dying.

I’ve had my
lucky breaks
my foul-ups.
Return my
energy
to its
fantastical
source.

Shoddy motel:
Stay the night?
No way.
Strange stains
screams in the dark
wiry men selling
any drug
you want.
Come and get it
in Scranton.

We haven’t gone
that far at all.
I want to go farther.
Run away
from
this cityscape,
these poor suckers
in their cardboard boxes.

I can see
the hunched-over woman
huddling
under her bridge
clutching
all she could afford
between
her quivering fingertips.

In Scranton
we don’t stay the night
thinking of bed bugs
microscopic
intruders
crawl
slither and
vomit stained carpet
under our feet

we walk outside
there’s a plastic chair
covered in cigarette ash
and despair
a woman’s yelling
a man replies
and the puke yellow light
casts odd shadows
in the
qualmish
polluted night

grab our bags
cross the lot
that man in the corner
he might
sell us
pot
just walk away
we pay the fee
check out

we haven’t gone that far
I’ve got to run farther
hit the line
to Canada
cross that border

endless stretch:
drive far away
far away from
hunched-over strangers
they wish us well
and say goodnight
in Scranton

I’ve had my
lucky breaks
my foul-ups.
Return my
energy
to its
fantastical
source.
This road
another path
on the journey
to
forgive
myself.

Run, run
but
don’t
run to Scranton
don’t trip and fall
in stinking gutters
don’t stop for drinks
or lose yourself
or
you’ll have to face

hunched-over strangers
“Please, I’m so hungry
Do you have any
money?
Do you have any
money?
I live under a
bridge. Please, please
help me.”

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