Monday, April 23, 2012

Death in the pot

It's been a rough week in the neighborhood.  We had a grade-school kid collapse on our lawn after experimenting with synthetic marijuana.  Then a spate of gang-related graffiti, including some of the most disturbing racial threats I have seen.  What really set me back in the end was the way none of this even phased me.  I just carried on as if things were normal.  Which I guess they are.  No outrage, no compassion.  Just a kind of jaded indifference.  I don't like to think this the is person I am becoming.  Something has to change in this neighborhood - and maybe it's me  Maybe you can connect with this, in some way.  Anyway, I wrote this bop as I reflected on the experience of these days. 

He couldn’t have been more than twelve years old,
face down on our lawn, strung out on K-2.
Out of nowhere there were three police cars
blocking the street, soon joined by a fire truck
and a white ambulance.  Then came the crowd,
the shouts, the knowing looks, the same old dance.

Something has to change in this neighborhood.

Overnight there was fresh graffiti sprayed
on our neighbors’ garage – a racial slur
with a threat.  The City sent a young man
to take photos.  He hardly said a word.
It all just felt so completely normal:
cops on our lawn, the n-word three feet tall.
It wasn’t until my son said to me,
“I’m scared to be outside,” that it hit me:

Something has to change in this neighborhood.

Suddenly I’m angry.  Seething at the
drug pushers, slum lords, smug politicians,
most of all, myself – for falling asleep,
dulled by twenty years in one place, until
I don’t blink when a kid might be dying
on my doorstep.  There is death in the pot.

Something has to change in this neighborhood.


Buddah Moskowitz said...

This is really good. You bring the reader in and then the repeated chorus has a different feel each time. Great detail - superb!

PSC said...

It IS a good poem, Andrew -- but a sad statement of how things are going for you. Hoping things will be changing -- for the better -- in your neighborhood, soon. :-]

Charity said...

great literary expression..
great social concern...
something has to change...
we started something in our community

Your son will thank you.

Laurie Kolp said...

Ooh... that's horrible. I know someone who nearly died from that stuff... went into hallucinations and had to be put in a coma. That's scary to think such young kids are exposed to this. Mine is a bit like yours. The world we live in has really changed.

Brian Miller said...

ugh man...yeah something needs to change....found another of these kids this week...cut himself up pretty good and used an iron to cauterize the wounds...crazy man...something has to change...

Anonymous said...

This is excellent...a raw honest reflection if real isn't dressed up, it isn't turned into a complex 'poetizisation' (I think I just made that word up).... It just is what it is....and I absolutely love it .... Raw life...straight up ...the bit that got me was the 'I'm scared to go outside'...crazy...really well written...thank you for sharing (stu mcp)

Fred Rutherford said...

Strong poem. I love how something has to change in this neighborhood is repetitive, but not just that, you did it in such a way that for me, makes it the skeletal frame of the piece. Great job. Thanks

Mark Windham said...

It is amazing and sad what we can get used to, apathetic towards. Well done.

Hannah said...

Thank you, Andrew for the honesty in your words preceding your poem. I think I can identify with that for the most part, I kind of dull-up with ALL of the garbage that goes on around us but then every once in a while like a brick wall, it does hit me.

Your poem captures so well your feelings around this and the repeating of "something in this neighborhood needs to change," works really well, Andrew.

I think the change is needed in the global neighborhood.

Khara House said...

Wow, what a terrible experience that must have been. Hopefully a change really does come for you and your neighborhood.

Romelle Broas said...

So deep and profound and tragic. Yes, something has to change in this neighborhood. Well done!
(fellow #MNINB)