portion of the artwork for Jayne Pupek's poems

Church Hill, 1987
Jayne Pupek

An alley delights in filth.
It’s a marriage of spray paint and plastic wrappers
and syringes that turn yellow or blue or even red,
depending on the light. Sometimes a rat
gnaws on a chicken bone from the Golden Skillet.
Rats eat most anything except ejaculate and tin cans.
When a rat dies, the other rats eat the carcass to keep predators away.

Some letters appear more frequently in graffiti than others, like “s”
as in shit, suck me, sonofabitch,
and “f” as in fuck you, fuck it, motherfucker, and freak.

Some objects you never see. Apples and clean underwear
have limited value and invariably get less room on brick
than assault weapons, basketballs, and topless women.
Some marks come from bodies.
This wall holds stains from the last mugging.
The victim, eighty, wet herself.
They were going to rape her, but she smelled like
oatmeal cookies and Aqua Net hairspray;
an ugly cyst protruded from her left knee.
One of the thugs let her go. He said she looked like
his grandmother when she prayed with her eyes closed.

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FRiGG: A Magazine of Fiction and Poetry | Issue 27 | Law & Order Issue | Winter 2010