To the Addict Who Mugged Me

Dear Mr. So-and-So with my blood on his clothes,
the Internet says a dollop of my spit
will take the stain right out.
I’m generous like that—I give myself away
to erase any sign that I was here.
What’s more brutal:
A never-ending dial tone
chewing the receptors in your brain,
or waking up in an alley with a busted face,
teeth red and penny-sweet, the rain
coming down clear as gin?
Wherever you are
with your stamp bag of winter,
your entire universe boiling
in the breast of a spoon,
floating in a hole in the air
in the middle of a room,
I wish I felt it in me to wish you well.
When goodwill tells me to be tender,
I have a trick: what I’m incapable of feeling,
I imagine as a place—
this throbbing in my brain
is now the sound of your rowing toward
what I pray is, if not home, then mercy.

From I Know Your Kind (Milkweed Editions, 2017). Copyright © 2017 by William Brewer. Used with the permission of Milkweed Editions.