Back Up


A poem by Kile McVey

I walked down Broadway 
to a crusty corner Walgreens 
& I bought 3 disposable cameras.
The humidity 
from outside leaks 
in through the loose crevices 
of the creaking automatic doors 
that never seem to shut all the way.

The plump cashier 
wipes three beads 
of sweat away from her 
burgundy bangs — 
“Do ya need a bag hon?” 
She asks as she quickly
rips the beige receipt paper 
out of her printer 
“No ma’am. I’m ok.” 
“Stop that, I am too young
to be a ma’am to anyone.”

I nod silently with a quickness 
a soft breath leaves my chapped lips 
muffled by the fabric of my mask 
my glasses instantly fill with clouds 
of my own quivering 
humid air & for a second, 
it feels like I am floating 
above the surface 
of the bleeding animal 
that continues to bleed 
out every day 
not a clot insight.

I take the receipt from her
& float away outside 
where a wall of solid 
80-degree wind 
brushes across my flushed cheeks. 
the dissonance 
of beeping horns 
on Broadway & Belmont 
thrust me into 
a scene of several distant 

A tall slender woman 
runs into the open arms 
of a man who has two 
pint-size dogs 
on leashes. Somehow 
he manages to hold her, 
her shoulder bag, and the pooches whiles
pinning her in 
tight circles.

I am the meat 
of this jubilant sandwich of 
joy, laughter, & heat.

Pressed firmly 
against the brick wall 
next to the Walgreens. 
My ass finds comfort 
in the sidewalk 
as everything becomes hotter.  
My palms become clams.

A small old man waves over 
an even smaller white Fiat 
with all of the windows rolled down. 
He plops himself in the passenger seat 
“Well, how the hell are ya? Huh?” 
He tightly hugs the other man 
that takes up the entire driver-side.

my soft floating
journey has now 
turned into a fast ascent to 
the ground,
the ground —

beneath the noise & 
the rhythm 
of an absent-minded Chicago.