by Laura Palmer

The rats and touts begin the day at dusk
As wiry, weary businessmen descend
The streets in threes, unequal to the task
Of drinking hard until the evening's end.
I've learned to make an absent face, conceal
My eyes from people pushing tits and soap,
Adopt robotic grace, pretend I feel
No hands where hands are caressing my coat.
"You like to dance? You want to dance tonight?"
My only answer is a tiny smile,
Of muted declination. Turning right,
I see the hotel (mock Egyptian style)
Behind the door, fat scarabs climb the wall,
And I wait in reception for your call.