Lampreys
by Kevin Frey

    And through the gaps between the bodies
    tightly pressed around me I see
    others staring at this young white guy

    as he sucks the lesions on his skin,
    bites off the festered, clotted blood;
    scabs on his face, scabs on his arms.

    Spatters of blood on his white shoes.  
    I don't notice his other clothes, his eyes,
    his attitude.  Only his wounds.

    So self-intent he doesn't see
    the other riders' mixed reactions,
    which range from blank indifference

    to the open disgust of the old black man
    across from me who winces painfully
    each time the guy bites into a scab,

    or the two young Korean women
    whose sidelong glances paint their faces
    with curiosity and fear.

    Me, I wait till I get back home,
    scrub my hands, and write this down:
    infected, infectious, focused, fucked.






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