Terri Kirby Erickson

He’s there every morning:
under a bridge, by the curb,

on the sidewalk. You ignore him
like a pile of old rags you keep

tripping over, vowing to toss.
But his body smells of birds caught

in drain pipes, rotting into bone,
and his mouth is a cave filled

with bats’ eyes, staring. So you
flinch when his hand reaches out,

jagged nails clawing the air
as if to save himself from falling—

walk faster, shaking misery
off your clothes like drops of rain.

Terri Kirby Erickson is the author of a collection of poetry entitled Thread Count. Her second collection, Telling Tales of Dusk, will be published by Press 53 in September 2009. Her work has been published by or is forthcoming in Bay Leaves, Blue Fifth Review, Broad River Review, Christian Science Monitor, Dead Mule, JAMA, Long Story Short, Muse India, nine anthologies by Old Mountain Press, Parent:Wise Austin, Paris Voice, Pinesong, Pisgah Review, Relief, Silver Boomer Books, Smoking Poet, Still Crazy, Thieves Jargon, Wild Goose Poetry Review, Voices and Vision: A Collection of Writings By and About Empowered Women, and others. E-mail: tkerickson[at]