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Adam Merzel

Predawn Cig on Pacific


One suitcase emerges from a building down the way.

And then, another.


Trap music drives by

rousing a leaf, or a rat

from one side of the walkway

to the curb. Candled remembrances flicker and burn there

with the familiar apathy neighborhood casualties are regarded.


The first hermit is out.

He lugs the day’s gear on his back,

inching toward the train with recognizable dread.

“‘Sup,” he half mouths half whispers in ostensible solidarity.

(A cat impeding his path appears to identify as well,

itself no more stray than the rest of the block’s inhabitants.)


The city is too much an idea to be home.

Accumulative detachment engenders the warped sense of community here,

routine the only thing that unifies.

Some, many,

mistake it for purpose

or worse, meaning;

such a thing cannot be had 8,000,000 at a time.


What’s left is a curdling smog of half-baked plans

and misplaced hope ever stalking the tops of heads.

Most will go on confusing their survival for accomplishment -

where the only thing won is a triteness so total

you can smell it in the stink,

roiling above and beneath the streets.