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Smashing Glass in Hobo-Town, July 1963.

 In weeds between the river and the tracks a row of shanties
straggled parallel, contrived from boxes and dismembered crates.
Companies of passed-out bums lay sprawled, clutching their guts like the
dead at Gettysburg.
 Craig's brother, all of twelve, gave the command and led a charge
of ten-year olds. We snatched the empty flasks that glinted full of dawn
and flung them like grenades, exploding dreams, the salvaged last
reprieves from boxcar straw.
Reluctant warrior, I hung back to watch those crumpled forms reanimate,
roused from stupor to resume their truncheoned lives, one more indignity
that riled them into action. We ran; they stumbled after.
One came close to catching me, his blasted stare supplying
nightmare's standard issue. Thus I surrendered sleep for spoiling
his, my shoulder throbbing where he almost grabbed, my face red-badged
with panic's powder burns.
Some wounds don't heal, and civil wars go on. When Craig shipped
home from Nam, addicted, his brother was the cop who made the bust. The
fall of empires and the faults of men are chronicled by gleaming shards
of glass. 
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Author:Wells, Will
Publication:Southwest Review
Article Type:Poem
Date:Jun 22, 2013
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