Saturday, June 17, 2006

Selected Glimpses of Childhood

Selected poems I've written about my childhood.

13th & Brooklyn

I must have crossed this street a hundred times
not as I do now
riding in my minivan
children in tow
crinkling their noses
to be in this part of town.
Back then
I crossed over to reach the liquor store
-long since gone,
replaced with tax-payer finery
in the form of a tidy senior community.
A ghost to my memory,
but tangible still,
its dirty concrete floors
stained with the footprints
of the forgotten many.
Adorning its dingy walls-
faded posters of foxy brown priestesses
with afros as commanding as any crucifix-
seductively offering the penitent a glass of forbidden fruit.
The smell of piss stings my nostrils still
as I remember winos and whores
exchanging trade in the doorways.
As a child I learned to move around them
so as not to disturb the wreckage of their lives.
Still I was eager to enter
the array of offerings at the candy counter
calling me as fervently as the bottle calls a drunk.
The cellaphane crinlked sweetly
as I unwrapped my sugar-laden prize-
a momentary respite of pleasure
a mighty conquest for a few loose coins.
It was here that I first fell prey.
Two boys came toward me
from the other side of the street
blocked my right-of-way
in broad daylight no less
right there on the yellow line.
One rummaged through the bag of liquor store groceries
taking my sour apple now/laters,
the other forced open my hand
stealing the change
mamma had said was mine to keep.
-Practicing as I suppose they were
for future 7-Elevens
while I practiced being a victim.
The Little Princess
Once upon a time
there lived a little girl
with two pigtails
that flapped in the wind
when she would run
but she did not run often
preferring to sit quietly
in the grass
making flower crowns
to place upon her head
as she ruled benevolently
over cockroach infested lands
inhabited by
ungrateful subjects
who neglected to invite her
to join their games.

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