Friday, May 13, 2005

pre-gentrified mexican war street blues, pittsburgh

columbia place: an alleyway packed with narrow row
houses behind buena vista street
on the central northside
out your door to meet the steps
that meet the sidewalk
that meet the street
before the door swings closed
behind you

hot summer nights on the stoops listening to the
blue moon doo-wap of the marcels
from our neighborhood
making it big-time
rings of cigarette smoke and cool talk
bouncing up and down the brick walls
slow sweaty hands of passion
inching along
under thighs
into flashes of newfound sensitivity

scrappy sunday afternoon pickup football on
monument hill
another lesson in hard dirt defeat
like the horace mann dirt field the previous week
and the oily hard dirt field at oliver the week
before that
the grassy fields
were all in the suburbs

and the suburbs brought us do-gooders
of all kinds
complete with work camp projects
and beatles records
and ideas

but then kennedy, chaney, schwerner, and goodman
were murdered
and the war came
songs of dissonance zig-zagged
right up columbia place
pushed each of us
up against the wall
to take a stand
no compromise

polemics in creative writing thank you s.m.
gandhi and dylan
til morning
ideas whose time had come
thumbing down the turnpike
to washington square
in dirty white jeans and sandals
freewheels impatient
in love
and a long way down the highway

death notices from the war appeared regularly
in the newspapers
familiar names
guys from monument hill
and columbia place
it was no time to run or hide
time to follow your conscience
to danang
or to face it head-on and say

--- e b bortz

(published in Voices of a Wanderer, 1993)

1 comment:

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