Misery by Inches

I nod to the comrade
in his ghastly green jacket,
That wily New Yorker nod,
He gets this respect
Tight fish-eyes and all,
But would not, for god, nod back,
Not to a lesser man.
Perhaps because finished souls
have teeth sunken in an ending fraternity
And this need not be broadcast
In pulpits and subways.

While adversity makes a man his most humble,
and nice jackets hide superior demons,
dogs will eat dogs.
if conditions are prime.
After all,
We compete for the attention
Of an original oblivion.
Real nothings in this lottery,
We feed off that nourishing melancholy,
No need to wear it on dirty sleeves.

Say, if we measured the lengths
Of our miseries with tape,
I may be bested by him,
Only by impressive inches,
Cos’ every inch counts.
In a tight room of private evil,
Inches discrete some from death,
An inch on a open wrist.
An inch from a perfect noose bed-sheet,
One inch too many.

I can smell his honing decay
In this bleeding mob of 69th Street.
For broken begets broken.
Something powerful in the offing.
Our oily foreheads,
Though carved with inches of time and honest vocation,
Will tell you many little nothings.

The man peels off his ghastly green jacket,
Just as the tunnels belches and quakes,
As the snake eyes lights come lashing,
he steps onto shivering tracks,
So ends a single story.
A honk, a smooth swoosh,
And I am better,
By a ghastly green jacket, a poem,
and a quest for winter.

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