local_library Community Swelter

by Charles Thielman

Published in Issue No. 253 ~ June, 2018

The heat drags its knuckles

over blacktop, brick, arms, faces,


jack-boots the street as humid mist

drifts from the heart of our bricked square


out to the curb where coffee shop workers

are delivering ice waters to the street urchins.


Scooping a cube onto her neck, she’s trying

to triage her malaise with iced coffee,


relief dissolving her street mask for a moment.

Summer night draping damp linens


over city intaglio, blue glyphs of exhaust

above intersections, verve and pocked nerve


hinged on the dark geometries of power lines.

No seats inside, she fingers another cube


up an arm, beveling the edge honed all day

at work, unloading boxcars to load trucks.


Square denizens promenade and sweat,

cop on horseback beside a sidewalk tree


regulating the pulse as a corner sax player

lets a fly with a freighted wail, notes


like orchids spun down canyons,

drawing stragglers to our shared swelter.



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Raised in Charleston, S.C., and Chicago, educated at red-bricked universities and on city streets, I have enjoyed working as a social worker, truck driver, city bus driver and enthused bookstore clerk. A loving Grandfather for SIX free spirits, my work as Poet, Artist and Secretary for an independent Bookstore’s company and collective continues! A video of my reading at Tsunami Books = http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d-5-G_jaoJY