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Of what was and what might have been January 2, 2017

Posted by vsap in Blogroll, Poetry, Uncategorized.
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We don’t take alleys anymore.

We stick to well-lit streets

and avoid underpasses and tunnels.

Those well-traveled paths were second nature

to every kid in the neighborhood.

Today, as adults, we know better —

Other days and other ways, I’ve heard it said —

But I never believed I’d see it in my lifetime.

It’s like a death in the family.

Once friendly streets now dangerous, blood-stained,

carelessly littered, a landscape of burned out bungalows:

That one where the Wilsons lived; over there, Sean’s home;

And, there, Billy’s, where we spent hours playing stick ball,

sandlot football and climbed to the shade of his tree house.

Today the house is leveled, and the yard is dirt and broken glass.

There is no hope of urban renewal, no rebuilding will be done.

I try to convince myself that there was nothing I could do about it,

that, over the arc of thirty years, I was not endowed with money

or political power to effect a change and I left it for a warm climate.

Yet, the visits are a reminder of what was and what might have been

and what will never be given the culture and the times.

I drive in my rented car, half in fear, half in awe

of what I’m witnessing and what I’m imagining:

Neat brick homes, well-manicured yards and friends beckoning to play.

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