I appear innocent, young, without power, easy to
overwhelm with meager will. I appear in night shadows,
almost a ghost, empty of context, a slight form covered
There is truth to that lore, the ability to cloud and hypnotize
weak minds. They see a prize unattached to strings or
consequence. These streets are not a home to me, not
refuge of familiarity. They are hunting grounds, but also
Here I walk my thoughts and come upon the plays, fraught
scenes of combat, cruelty, commerce, romance.
Deep night tragedy and drama acted out by frantic
spirits unable to be held inside to recover and prepare
for day’s obligations. So many have no safe homes,
no walls and doors to shelter, muffle their rage, passion,
howls and terrified jabs of defense.
The street does not welcome. It is a trial of last resort.
It is the ground below which the only fall is to death.
Even jails have walls, extrinsic rules. Law of the street,
as nature, simplifies to do what you will until stopped.
To spite that freedom, habits take control, roles, spheres
of conduct. I return each night, watch plots twist to work
kinks out of productions, eavesdrop on rewrites of dialog
Old drinking partners loudly disagree about a story they
tell each other. The pain of betrayal strikes through their
long layered bond. Asunder, each wandering this lonely dark
as if the experience were new, an unexpected grief.
A shabby man hits away the crying woman running after him
demanding money, demanding he look at her. He strikes
her down, walks away. She cries where she lays, then
quickly stands, aware that she is alone but not unseen.
A jeering boy offers her a dollar in jest. She gestures
what he can do with his trash talk. I am hungry.
I turn my attention to the hunt. My senses are alert for
the solitary stranger who won’t be missed. I ignore the
cuddled lovers taking comfort in the scant privacy of
Soon someone is dying, intimately in my grasp.
If the audience could but applaud and go home.
If we could all go home to safe comfort, families,
friends, a warm bed, pleasant dreams.
This is not that kind of theater.
Here we have no luxury of sets, no safety of stagecraft.