She existed only under the neon swirl of Broadway
Between 42nd and 9th a super billboard of iconic luxury, she was the freckled faced beauty of Ralph’s Americana
College cute; the world is safe in Polo Dreams and monogrammed elegance
Her blue ribbon smile cut with Woodberry pluck and her cinema curls sprayed with Nantucket goodness, but underneath the fried stench of food stamps and microwaved tacquitos and the real face of Broadway slits through.
Her face was ripped with open scars and pitted sores, she tried to hide them with drug store make up but the powder cake couldn’t hide those lines of swollen sorrow, like rotting worms feasting on poision. She wore white ankle socks slutted with tide marks, and thrift store shoes, limp with no heel they were two sizes too small hammering her toes purple, and raw making them appear like bulbous Dandelion heads. Sometimes she would take them off to let them breathe dried scabs forming a line of leeching crusts across her toes.
In the rain all you could see was an overhang of boiled pink flesh like a Holiday Ham burnt on the rim. She wore a flimsy cotton dress well, 50% cotton and the rest Polyester, it was dank and moist and smelt of rotten milk and amonia . She couldn’t do anything about the yellow sweat stains that gassed the arms but to avoid people’s stares and protect her tiny dignity, she would clutch her hands in front of her. She had oversized calloused hands used to fend off revlusion and pity the kind of pity meated out at a distance the kind of pity she detested.
Frank was her sweetheart then Jimmy and Johnny T ridding the grease pole with fangled hope she lost count of all the promises they made then lost time, then she lost everything that mattered, hers was the underskirt of a Pepsi Kiss with no saccahrin left to coat her sordid panorma.
She had forgotten when her birthday was either May or June, she blanked out all the good stuff – like a bomb she had exploded into nothing
She didn’t like thinking about who she was and how she got to scraping the alleys of life for bottles and 10 cents cans.
On bright days when the sun was bleaching the buildings with an oily glare and the hiss of fried dirt she wore fake Ray-Bans and Ronald McDonald lipstick, she was the Betty Jones of her ghetto tableau; her pork belly folded over three times had a mushroom hue and was sagging with resignation.
She existed on the fringes of a twilight world – just a living corpse a study in beatnik angst; material for an Allen Ginsberg wannabe her eyes leaded with grief and hammered with pain the kind that’s punched into you leaving her numb and ripened with hate.
Four a.m., underneath the candy pink glow of Times Square lie the skewered remains of Jane Doe, a mottled portrait of gloom fracturing the Manhattan skyline
As smoke rings circle the frost bitten air and police sirens switch blade the dawn, party hipsters rubberneck the scene there’s nothing to say it’s too ugly for words, but mostly too ugly for life.