And once we climbed over the wire fence
and skated with my daughter on the dark
rink near the Charles Hotel, and the police
rolled down their window and gave us a glance.
Another time I lifted in a store
a can of soup and was arrested for
that crime, and spent three hours in jail,
studying the graffiti on the walls.
Jane had been there, and she wrote “Shit!”
From Ann we had “I love you, Jesus Christ!”
and a phone number. There was spit
shaped like New Zealand, an imprint of a fist.
The names: Ursula, Marsha, Liz from Maine,
who used her lipstick to write “Life’s a bitch.”
The bail officer came, looked at me sadly.
“What did you do to be here?” To the judge
I told a bunch of lies and he dismissed my case.
Liberated, I ran down eight flights of stairs.
God, bail us out of all our prisons!
And to the homeless in the Square I once
gave away ten dollars, and full of sentiment
walked away sobbing. My toothless friend,
have I mentioned how once I skated
under the stars, holding my daughter’s hand?
Katia Kapovich has published seven books of poetry in Russian and two in English, the latest Cossacks and Bandits (Salt, 2008). Her poems have appeared in the London Review of Books, Poetry, The New Republic, Harvard Review, The Independent, Jacket, and many others. She is a co-editor of Fulcrum.