by Julia Smith
A flock of homeless lives
on the hillside near my home.
They push carts past porches strung
with hammocks beckoning
summer days unslung.
To concrete underpasses and exits
the homeless trek to perch on milk crates
and crow for coin from strangers
in closed cars, eyes averted—
the unseen, unheard hurt.
I walk across the bridge that abuts
the brow of homeless hill, skirting
crushed airline-size whiskey sips near
spent shell casings—target practice
on I-670 trucks, angry aimless acts.
Down the path to Mulkey Park
honeysuckle saps poke like prisoner’s arms
through fenced thicket. I glimpse
blue tarp and soggy socks laying prone,
smell plastic with acrid undertone.
At the baseball field, two girls wash
dingy hair in water fountain—
no little league spigot splash.
Sharpie stories on picnic legs:
gang tags and rags on love’s snags.
In a nearby mansion roost
high above the West Bottoms hang
Buddhist prayer flags above the horizon
of an infinity pool. The owner fears
skinny dips from her homeless peers.
I walk a ridgeline of high low
where the flock of homeless grows.
Julia Smith is an intern for New Letters literary magazine and an assistant art editor at Number One magazine at the University of Missouri-Kansas City. Her nonfiction has been published in New Letters online and Number One. She is a non-traditional student with a recent blended family of young adults. When she isn’t writing, she likes to bike, read, watch films and make art.
Photo by Jon Scott Anderson