Sunday, September 27, 2015

hopScotch ...

hopScotch ...

the chalk lines
on the sidewalk
have washed away now
after so many years of rain and
snow and all the
weather of decay
through the unending parade
of seasons that have
separated her from
frilly dresses and
birthday cakes
with fewer candles
marking time
but she still remembers
the way her ponytail bobbed
in the bright sun
when she skipped
over a smooth stone
and spread her legs at
2 and 3

"Promise you won't tell ..."
and he promised but lied
and told and then told again
he was Sonny Bartolo
the boy next door and
the running back
of the Clifton Cougars
not quite the prize
not the quarterback
but close enough
and afterwards
after he told and then told again
the world hissed at her
through voices in the wind
and called her the
Clifton Cunt

she hesitates at the corner
and lights a cigarette
as she peers down the
misty street where she once lived
the change is remarkable
the trees so tall
they bend and arch into one another
the houses so pale
they disappear in the blink of disrepair
then for a moment
her legs quiver and
her knees buckle
but she steadies herself against
the STOP sign
throws her cigarette
into a sewer
and steps over a broken brick
as she resolves to finish
the longest walk of her life

in college she cut off all her hair
and watched the curls tumble
into her dorm sink
sticking in silky threads
on the gobs of toothpaste
spit from Marie's mouth
Marie the dark-haired Hispanic
her room-mate and her
lover or at least
her sexual partner
who touched her softly
in the blackness of night
and who gave her wings
to fly over and above
her nightmares

she steps over the sidewalk
cracks that are filled with burweed
and she does not stop until
she reaches 308
the number still
tilted askew on the front
of the ragtag house
where she grew up
and suffered through
its screaming midnight walls
and its stench of sour beer
and vomit-stained mornings
the driveway is cracked and chunks
of asphalt have already disappeared
around the corner of the garage
as if somehow they could be replaced
there is more but
her eyes blur out the shivering past
and focus on the house next door
where a young boy plays under the Bartolo
cherry tree with a toy hatchet
that he whacks repeatedly
against the tree trunk
and in the boy's face
she sees the likeness she loathes
and for a moment
she almost whispers a prayer

after college
she joined the police force
and learned to shoot
straight and true
but never would she
fire a single shot
in the chaotic panorama of crime
she faced
never even imagined
the steel bullet
ignited by her hand
and finding its mark
until today

she calls to the boy
and is surprised at the sound
her voice makes in the October
winds that crease the grey sky
"Where's your father?"
she shouts a little too harshly
and the boy smells harm
sees something in her eyes
so he runs up the walk
then through the front door
into the house
which quickly spews out
the man she has come for
the running back grown old
and fat and confused for just a moment
until he sees the girl in her
and smiles the smile of conquest
long enough to say her name like it was
the punch line in a bar-room joke
and then says no more
when suddenly the still air lights up
and he falls into the invisible
set of chalk lines
that she has long
dreamed would be drawn
around his corpse
on the sidewalk where he tumbles
like the stone
tossed by the girl
with a bobbing ponytail
who now watches him crumble
and fall
somewhere between
the 10 and the 4



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