We walk at night under the menacing claws
of palm trees where streetlights replace the stars.
We walk along the curve
of the city’s hip where the desolate sleep.
We slither into yards to steal oranges from trees
and carry our burdens in shopping carts
past the church that has a food bank on Saturdays
for only those who can show
proof of residency,
proof of merit,
proof of humanity.
We walk past layered cardboard beds,
layers of harvested blankets,
layers of nested newspaper for warmth,
layers of the sounds of sucked teeth.
Our eyes are scratched by too many sights
and our ears are scraped by too many sounds.
They walk past us and we look at them from under our dirty hair
heavy like a cluster of black grapes atop our heads,
our tentative hands held out as if their change were cactus thorns.