We squabble about the money skimmed
from our drudgery, the barbs lift
enemies from our skin. At the end of shifts
we are lathered in sweat and the day is night;
cars move above us and I have blood on my palms.
Your teeth are broken, we are old
we are the same, we have always been here
we are layers of dried paint. On our best days
we are birds, we are flocks of laughter
we are dawn. When they grind another hour
from your skin, new enemies appear.
They burst from your chest frothing,
phones in fists, plastic in pockets,
they will never hold our eye,
they will talk to our foreheads
they will beat us with chains —
then park their cars in the street
outside our house and wait to mark
our children with their stares.
We will not let them steal us
we will turn them inside out
we will feast on their feebleness
we will make ourselves sharp
we will slide an answer
into their throat.