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Signing the Kills

That might have been me, the boy you saw
walking below the smokestacks. All night
he crossed the bridges between boroughs,
hitch-hiked rides beneath the rivers.
He stood spread-eagle in the silver webbing
on a dare that came across the airwaves
of his own voice, climbed Hail Mary
up the ladder of enormous cylinders,
fuel tanks and water towers, sprayed
the several syllables of invented names,
tagged overpasses and the underbellies
of train trestles. He walked until it seemed
his voice could mimic even the sound
of shoes slipping on roadside gravel,
the belt rubbing skin on his hips, the straps
of his singlet, the chain clinking against
the Saint Christopher he still believed in.
He baited pigeons and seagulls to play
Saint Francis and he would have tagged them
too, if they’d come. He walked until morning
smoke clouded the stars above the Kills
and doused the distant city’s lights.
He tossed the rattling empty spray-can
and walked until he couldn’t be distracted.
He walked until that voice was finally quiet.
He walked until those slow clouds started
to billow like offerings at matins and he
was emissary of a generous silence.