Joseph Awad


Surfacing into evening
From the smoky basement bar,
We stalk the rose red neon distances.
Past storefronts, windowed mannikins,
Alleys that narrow into slits, locked cars,
Laddered windows into nothing leaning,
We roam the streets of the lost absolute
On the make for meaning.

We shop the open doorways, taking in,
Under pink or yellow canopies
Or frolicking marquees, the grinding din--
Humping bass and screaming brass, the pleas
Of Come on baby, baby, amplified.
A nude, illuminated, hips asway,
Turns on and off, like instincts half suppressed,
Pleasures proffered, snatched away.

A cross of neon, like a laceration,
Bleeds where midtown towers, partly lit,
Lose their identities in the darkening skyline,
Like profiles in a bar or those that drift
Through dreams. Closer, the cross says Jesus Saves.
We turn the corner, out of step with grace,
Electric letters hanging in the night.
Another time. Another place.


A graduate of Gonzaga and Georgetown, Joseph Awad lives in Richmond, VA. He has written four books of poetry and served as Virginia’s poet laureate. His work has appeared widely, most recently in Harold Bloom’s Anthology of American Religious Poems, published by the Library of America.

Published in Volume 8, Number 4, Fall 2007.


Read more by this author:
Joseph Awad: The Whitman Issue
Joseph Awad: DC Places Issue