Shelter<br>J. Patrick Lewis
project name

J. Patrick Lewis


J. Patrick Lewis


From the earth a scarf of steam flutters

through the grillwork. Even this cold

can’t conquer the smell of piss.

A one-eyed cats her natural alarm.

She rattles out of a White Cloud cardboard,

unfolding her bones against the bricks,

arced in black spray paint with a graffito:

Mayor Sucks Koch.


The winter beasts are out and prowling.

She knows them all by name: Who-Bop,

Sleepy, Attaboy. Under a raw sheetmetal

sky, Ice Man cues his shivering shill.

One of the two awfully white gentlemen

about to sucker up for the hustle

could be her first and third bird husband.

A giantess of invincibility,

she packs the particulars of her life,

then ticks with a hickory branch the iron

accordions of storefront cages

until she reaches the park.

There the body gives, the mind snags.

Green ignition fires implausible December.

The iced lawns thaw, the last bird sighs.

Beyond the knived tongues, she curls

up in a municipal bed of love-