TEEPEE

by Luke Otley

This teepee could be a circus tent
home to paint lacquered clowns, off-duty,

brutishly short, with square jaws and raw
shaven faces. Instead here we sit; jokes

in our own way, caricatures I suppose,
a black eye here, a torn pitfall of nose,

two eyebrows making slow amends,
small ears straining, pierced, painless.

We look to blame the things we see
for the fix we’re in:

a single sock forgotten like a childhood
wish, and cigarette butts scattered as casually

and purposefully as a bitches’ piss.
Some clothes hang hopefully, most

huddle together in dark corners, waiting
for a wandering hand to stir up the stench,

like a stagnant wishing well
disturbed in promise of a coin.

And we’re not alone. A mouse
with a brazen heart beating

a mile a moment just might
fry; wire chewing, clueless

to death’s wet mouth, hidden
where it’s warmest.