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The City’s Shadow
The outline of a tree stretches from one building
to the next, branches spread like tentacles.
Across the city, buildings extend toward noon,
the shade of the library cast over a small garden.
Gas station signs shrink back after midday
while the city sleeps in alleys and parking lots.
The city wakes when a woman opens a bar’s back door
after her shift. Night now, she walks past the dumpster
to her car. The city sucks on her cigarette, stirs the air
at the back of her neck. She slides a key between each finger,
a makeshift weapon, and stabs the air in practice.
The City Descends
on me like a lover. His dark coat brushes
my bare skin. It is always night
and I am always willing even though
I know better. I lie down on his cold bed,
a sheet of cement. He embraces me
with tentacles and suction kisses.
The next morning, stray sheets
of newspaper tumble in the street
as I walk home. The breeze lifts
his scent of smoke and standing water.
I hold my breath against the smell.
Julie Brooks Barbour is the author of Small Chimes (Aldrich Press, 2014) and two chapbooks: Earth Lust (2014) and Come To Me and Drink (2012), both from Finishing Line Press. Her poems have appeared in Waccamaw, Four Way Review, diode, storySouth, Prime Number Magazine, burntdistrict, The Rumpus, Midwestern Gothic, Blue Lyra Review, and Verse Daily. She is co-editor of the journal Border Crossing and an Associate Poetry Editor at Connotation Press: An Online Artifact. She teaches composition and creative writing at Lake Superior State University.