Michael Henson is author of a novel, a book of stories, and three collections of poetry. His short novel, Tommy Perdue, is due for publication in 2012 from MotesBooks. He is a member of the Southern Appalachian Writers Cooperative and lives in Cincinnati.
The Alleys of Over-the-Rhine
These are the hidden back-door by-ways,
dark and seemingly nameless as the paths of forests.
Cool and dark in the blaze of summer.
Cold and dark in the man-killing winter.
Locus of the mysteries of death and conception.
Retreat of the homeless and the hunted.
Paved with brick and curbed with stone,
littered with broken glass, wasted syringes, and wilted condoms . . .
Nothing grows here but the moss on the walls,
nothing but the grass in the seams of brick and stone.
At night, lit but the distant moons of the streetlamps,
the homeless find a cold and stony sleep.
No one sings here but the lonely inebriate, no one lifts a prayer,
Only the desperate priest of the needle, only the acolyte of the pipe.