—Loosely, from Baudelaire

Engines are roaring on the freeways and streets,
while dawn’s haze makes halos around street lights.

That time, when bad dreams from late-night pizzas
swarm from the bellies of sleeping teenagers.
Red LEDs from their chargers and iPhones,
stare like small bleary eyes into the gloom;
the spirit flickers in weak imitation.
The morning air is thick with dissipation,
And some weary of acting, and others of whoring.

The McD’s around town get their fryers to smoking.
Lost souls, in smeared makeup and stained sheets
try to lose as much as they can in drugged sleep.
The homeless hug their thin breasts to themselves
and breathe on their fingers to warm them. That chill
and their poverty worsen the aches of the pregnant.
Crows creak from their roosts in abundance,
as hospitals murmur with moans of the dying.
A lowrider’s bass cannon thumps somewhere nearby;
car alarms squeal in response. From the bars,
last night’s drunks stagger back to their cars.

And Dawn climbs down the mountains to the Pacific,
as that old hack, LA, gets dressed for work.



CharlesJosephAlbertCharles Joseph Albert lives with his wife and three teenage boys, works as a metallurgist, and does his writing on the trolley to and fro. His work has appeared recently in Vallum, Write City, the Malahat Review, Amsterdam Quarterly, the Apeiron Review, the MOON, and The Literary Nest. His first novel, The Unsettler, is now appearing in SERIAL Magazine.