This poem is about when I lived on Schirmer Street in St. Louis, MO (near Lemay). The last time I visited that street was May 2012, after attending a Red Hot Chili Peppers concert. It’d been years since I tread my old stomping grounds. I’d felt I just… needed to. It was a simple closure. Not so pleasant for the other passengers in the vehicle, but I wanted to see. St. Louis does not hold fond memories for me. But I thought this memory formed a good poem.
Three streets from the main road,
a long length of my life, I descend
to a convenience store
beneath harsh sun.
It’s summer va-cay
and Mom has futilely decided to attend
a two-year medical school, gone each day
so I walk, $1.23 in hand, fished
from the living room floor.
Broken brick buildings and bony, frothing dogs
loom in dusty yards, and I tread close to the main road
just one red light and a row of cars bars my way.
I try not to think that if I’m caught
by my neighbors, raw, lanky kids,
I’ll be bruised as they are.
I keep on, unmolested by vultures,
my 12-year frame shaking.
I buy two granola bars, one for my brother,
and exit, carefully watch pavement I’ve covered
speeding, receding beneath
my burning, sweaty feet
as I greedily tear open one wrapper.
Unrelenting sun beats on my scalp
as I return to the brown, roach-ridden
house, ramshackle picture
of its former self, to give my brother
his half of food,
food we never own.