Monday, January 16, 2012

Remembering ML King Boulevard

It was so beautiful in Tinytown
When the sunrise hit the formstone, or the
Moonlight caught the scrapyard storage tanks.

We were proud to drink at Butts ‘n’ Betties
Where you fought or lost your girlfriend every time,
Proud to walk the projects every day
And navigate police tape and well-tossed bricks,
Proud of that fat guy at the liquor store
Who sold us our Chesterfields and Smirnoff
When he shot a robber dead from his perch,
Proud we had no furniture and Goodwill clothes,
Proud we smelled the sulfur and epoxy,
Proud we were insane not mediocre,
With our gizzard and horseradish banquets
And violence on the grass each Saturday…

But thoughts become like a virus
And memory a terminal disease
And I wonder why, as I let this go,
I found such solace in their acceptance,
In the magic of a dying old world town
Where there wasn’t ever any room to build
But plenty of incentive to destroy,
Where pain was a badge best left in the attic
And drinking games the only freedom from shame,
The shame of feeling pain
                                            in a harbor
Of tears,
where the priests lacked all compassion,
Where they let you see with a kind of glee
What will become of those souls abandoned
But only if you do not bat an eye;
This town that drinks alone but lets you buy.

Ghosts and homeless people were my only friends
Because they said what others merely know:
How every mental fabricating smelter
Goes belly up in the end, and every grace
Must always be contingent, for no one
Deserves a thing, that is the curse of knowing
That before the Marxist hip-hop poseurs
Stapled their flyers to the plywood walls
That once these storefronts held a golden age.

Escaping from such a place with my life
Was nothing, for it was a place to die,
But I cry to know my children called it birth.

1 comment:

S.E. Ingraham said...

What a haunting collection of images ... perfect for this day