In our neighborhood, there’s a barbershop
and a liquor store
we don’t go to anymore
there’s a place that sells quilts, but I’ve never seen it open
there’s a place that sells used furniture and it smells just like stale popcorn

they tore that theater down
about three months after we moved here
remember how we hoped they’d reopen and restore it?
but instead they tore it down
there’s a bank there now
across the street from the other bank
and the other bank

in our neighborhood there’s a coin-op laundromat
and a taco truck in the lot next door to that
and there’s a whole bunch of dry cleaners
don’t know who’s wearing all those clothes
I just know it’s not the guy across the street
with the tattoos and the belly and the lawnmower

on the trampoline in the yard next door
half the springs are missing
and a lonesome wind blows through every day about four
and I just stand in the yard and I listen
to the ghosts of the children
from thirty years ago
playing down the block
at the corner of Alba and Bethlehem

In our neighborhood back in 1983
A man climbed up on his roof and refused to come back down
and that was years before we lived here
but the people who remember
don’t like to talk about it
except for that one old loud-mouthed neighbor in the 1600 block
she’s the only one who’ll tell you what it was like here in the old days
and everybody hates her, and she hates everybody,
but for some reason she seems to like me and you. . . .
no idea what she sees in me and you

now winter’s set in hard and mean
and the air smells like gasoline

in our neighborhood there’s a library
and a Chinese food place run by Pakistanis
and nobody notices the difference in our neighborhood
it’s about the only place that’ll deliver
in our neighborhood

seems like if there was room enough
for all that stuff, there’d be room enough
for us

in our neighborhood back in 1983
everybody noticed times were changing
but nobody knew what to do about it
and then there’s me and you here in the 1000 block
why we stay is still a mystery
here at the tail end of history . . .