Issue 25 | Summer 2020

Rain and Retribution

You lie against the bricks of a Speedway
station only because the manager is
indisposed and doesn’t see your desperation
spread out on the concrete like a ragged
scarecrow. Young though you are, your
face has aged into a sharp poignancy, skin
wrinkled toward heaven as you look up
at the night. Hands under your thighs for
warmth, cold truth of dereliction stays in
your fingers. You begin to grow drowsy,
but the once velvet sleep you took for
granted no longer flowers into peaceful
dreams. Late-night customers pass you
without sympathy. You stare at pant legs,
shoes that ignore you as if you were debris
put out for the Thursday pickup. Days ago
your heroin-addled girlfriend shut you out
of a shared house, moved in with her
grandma while you packed nothing and
pointed vagrancy toward the street. Rain
puddles on steamy August pavement. You
feel a toe poke through the hole in your sock,
a small feeling of escape from the world
that tossed you to its bottom. Someone
throws you a dollar. It floats to your side
like a broken wing. Flashes of occasional
headlights flame your face like the slap of
someone better off. A sliver of despair
ripples down your empty stomach.  What
heart would let you lie here embracing
cement? Could it be the result of people
turning away from your lies and deception,
leaving you to the justice of the streets?
Hope withers like weeds along the curb,
drops of neon stick to stems, your cry
for help hushed as a funeral.

Filed under: Poetry

R. Nikolas Macioci earned a PhD from the Ohio State University, and for thirty years taught for the Columbus City Schools. In addition to English, he taught drama and developed a writers’ seminar for select students. OCTELA, the Ohio Council of Teachers of English, named Nik Macioci the best secondary English teacher in the state of Ohio. Nik is the author of two chapbooks: Cafes of Childhood and Greatest Hits, as well as seven books: Why Dance, Necessary Windows, Cafes of Childhood (the original chapbook with additional poems), Mother Goosed, Occasional Heaven, A Human Saloon, and Rustle Rustle Thump Thump. Critics and judges called Cafes of Childhood a “beautifully harrowing account of child abuse,” but not “sentimental” or “self-pitying,” an “amazing book,” and “a single unified whole.” Cafes of Childhood was submitted for the Pulitzer Prize in 1992. In addition, more than two hundred of his poems have been published here and abroad in magazines and journals, including the Society of Classical Poets journal, Chiron, Concho River Review, the Bombay Review, and Blue Unicorn.

He won First Place in the 1987 National Writers Union Poetry Competition, judged by Denise Levertov, first place in the Baudelaire Award Competition, sponsored by the World Order
of Narrative and Formalist Poets (1989), second place in Zone 3‘s first annual Rainmaker Awards, judged by Howard Nemerov (1989), and second place in the Writer’s Digest annual competition, judged by Diane Wakoski (1991).