Charleston

Charleston

by Joshua Beane

Charleston,

I hear the co-mingled din

of your voice

In your interstate trucks passing,

your lazy slow-swimming barges,

heavy with coal,

following the river,

the money,

and the people,

out of town.

Charleston,

Your sidewalks are

sticky-slick

with the blood and gore

of my failures

lost causes,

lost battles,

lost friends.

Charleston,

I see their faces

in every cloud.

I hear their voices

echoing on every corner

in town.

Their cars fill every

street;

ten deep around me

at every stop light.

Charleston,

the brambled thicket

of your 49 thousand souls

has snared better than me.

Charleston,

You flopping, twitching

roadkill horror

of ever-grasping

tangled tentacle-rape legs.

Charleston,

Even your earnest-smiling,

arts-supporting,

NPR-listening,

wine-drinking,

Capital-Street-roaming,

bearded, hipster-trash,

is leaving you –

bi-annually,

on vacations,

in Portland,

South America

or NYC.

Charleston,

I do love you.

But I will never be true to you.

I might go out for coffee

one night

and never return.

Not because I don’t love you,

but because I hate you

more than love you.

Charleston,

Your West Side,

your would-be-Brooklyn,

is a mess of abandonment

and rebirth.

Charleston,

Your East End blocks,

a quarter-mile long,

settled by languorous,

dilettante pillheads,

and people who practice

dog walking

like a religion.

Charleston,

Your cotton candy sunsets,

over the Kanawha –

the dirty,

polluted,

chemical stained

Kanawha.

I have always imagined that it tasted

like cough syrup.

Charleston,

Your horde of lawyers,

picking over the corpse of this valley,

over every litagatable surface,

like a biblical plague.

Charleston,

Your ubiquitous

all-touching

all-knowing

inescapable web –

with a quarter million strands

stretching across the valley.

Charleston,

This exhausting web,

and these blood-sucking

gossip-spiders who spin it.

Charleston,

Your Greek Chorus

of judgement.

It’s faceless dozens

knowing every move made,

every word said,

every mouth kissed,

every curse uttered.

Sometimes Charleston,

Sometimes I want to leave

and never even think

about you

again.

And I might leave you one day;

I hope I do.

But I could never forget

this moribund waste of a city.

Never forget the sunsets,

coffee on Capitol Street

after dark.

Never forget those first kisses:

by the river –

at daybreak

after talking all night –

secreted away in a car,

desperate and sudden –

or against the cold stone wall

of a closed store,

on a quiet, dark street.

This place,

that everyone

who has ever loved me

has called home.