Altercation on a Bronzeville Street

by DL Minor

My arms full I watched with a kind of yearning 
The afternoon sun beaming its October warmth 
Against my windows, and the gorgeous leaves 
Curling up and rising, chasing one another, a child playfulness 
Around indulgent protective trees

Aching back, creaking knees

I went out to it 
Drawn to its luster, its skittish glow 
To take in the bustle the buzz and the alley’s heartbeat 
I went out to it
Drawn to wind-song 
To bird-call— 
The singing and the scuttle and the scamp of wildlife— 
To every blessed thing.

And pulled down those streets I made my way, brisk 
And dreaming, without seeing, nodding as 
I went 
To my city companions—the Old 
Familiars wanting at the corner, 
The Hausfrau in rags harrying the traffic, 
The Proselytizers grim in their cheerful 
Daily Purpose—making my brisk and dreaming way
And curling leaves skipped and swirled ahead of me 
And wild life fluttered and did high-wire 
Duets; cradled by the ancient arms 
Of heavy sheltering branches 
In carefree delicate step with lights 
Going green to red and back again 

Then the streets—all of them, 
All of them in all directions— 
Exploded grief and fury
Began to shriek confusion
The wild things scattered 
Thwarted with frustration 

The blue and white cars were shrill with accusation 

And bodies crazed with youth danced a War 
Party dance; darting helter-skelter around 
Sullen cringing cars and dueling with an 
Arch and overbearing city bus 
Crazy-bodied youth 
Everywhere and 
Too close, too far away, sprawling here 
Immobile there 
Hectoring hollering, spitting hard luck 
They were drunk on vicious music,
Melodies throbbing with blood fervor, 
On hates 
Momentary, heedless, and 
They were beautiful and brutal 
Youth raw in the bruising air
Their reddening faces grinning sick with calumnious

Without hope. Without care. 

And oh, the books! Abandoned, forgotten
Histories tossed to curb and gutter, 
Left there to forfeit everything blessed 
Someone pushed past me and said aloud to 
No one: “That’s a shame, just a goddam shame”
And to his back and shoulders I said “Yes.”

My arms were full; I watched with yearning 
A cold and heartless sun beating against 
The windows, and the wasted shriveling leaves
Scattering like ashes, as in mourning,
Coming to rest weakened against the helpless trees.

Altercation on a Bronzeville Street by DL Minor

© Copyright 2010. All rights reserved. No portion of this work may be duplicated or copied without the expressed written consent of the author.

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