What Happens Under the Overpass

by Neil Carpathios

My friend who lived homeless for a year
tells me. You masturbate with your hand
or sometimes a cement pillar. You pick
lice out of your hair and pretend
they’re licetronauts you flick
into orbit. You use an empty bottle
to shatter the skull of someone
who says suck me or else.
You urinate and watch the steam
cloud mushroom like a ghost.
You listen to cars and trucks
voom by above you like huge
metallic gods. You find a half-
eaten Twinkee with ants dotting
the cream and you eat it,
licking your fingers. You read
the graffiti. You add a few pearls
of your own with a broken bic.
You use a newspaper for a blanket.
You pick scabs on your legs
and create smeared jelly blood art.
You study the clouds shifting
as if they are symbols on a treasure
map. You hum to drown-out
your stomach’s growling. You stare
down at your hands that are swollen
and empty and holding nothing,
the way you entered the world.


More from Neil Carpathios

The Function of Sadness
This Is Not a Poem, Damn It
What Happens Under the Overpass


Neil Carpathios is the author of three full-length poetry collections:  Playground of Flesh (Main Street Rag Press), At the Axis of Imponderables (winner of the Quercus Review Book Award), and the just released Beyond the Bones (FutureCycle Press). He is a professor of English and Coordinator of Creative Writing at Shawnee State University in Portsmouth, Ohio.

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