Streetlight falls checkered through the city
to keep it wide awake, as if quiet would weaken its life.
Silky threads of neon break over patrons
behind gated verandas. Damp wind sings back to their laughter.
A faint lamp sits above a kitchen’s alley exit
like an out of place moon. Just off Beale,
churchgoers figure God’s still in the reckoning.
Out here, so many chances are twice-lost.
In a strip club, truths and lies are told in the same motion
as the willing blindness of someone banging its ATM.
From Blues Hall Juke Joint, you listen to a song
loved by someone who once loved you,
now you hear it in rain at the doorway window.
Hauling freight from Tuscaloosa, some overtired trucker,
late to the city on the long reach of Highway 61,
waits for a door to open on a vacancy.
Jeffrey Alfier is a poet and photographer who resides in Southern California. His most recent poetry collection, The Shadow Field, was published by Louisiana Literature Journal & Press. Other books include Gone This Long – Southern Poems, The Wolf Yearling, The Red Stag at Carrbridge – Scotland Poems, and Idyll for a Vanishing River, and Bleak Music, a photography-poetry collaboration with poet Larry D. Thomas. Literary journal credits include Copper Nickel, Faultline, New York Quarterly, Southern Poetry Review, and Vassar Review. Alfier is co-editor of Blue Horse Press and San Pedro River Review. He’s a member of Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America.