Monday, August 2, 2010

poem of the day 08.02.10

black charlie

charlie
was one of the kids
who lived in the alleyway
behind my grandmother’s house

she never wanted me
out there playing with the kids
on her street

they were all bastards, she’d say

or gypsies

you’d see tons of kids
but never a parent
and never anyone’s old man

but charlie lived
down at the end of the alleyway

he was riding a bike
while i was still doing time
on a big wheel

one day he came up the street
with his brother, august
the two of them stood
and watched me toss crab apples against
a cracked wall

august asked me if i ever rode a bike

i said no

charlie offered me his
even though my grandmother
was standing watch on her front porch
beer in one hand
one of the cigarettes that would kill her in the other

she let me go with august and charlie
against her better judgment

we spent the afternoon riding the bikes
up and down the alleyway
as the gypsy kids watched

charlie held on to the back of his bike
while i peddled

eventually he let go and i was on my own

the feeling scared and hell out of me
but gave me a burst of freedom

anything was possible, i thought,
looking down the alleyway
at the city of pittsburgh

nowhere was too far

when we were done
charlie asked me if i ever went to the park

i didn’t know

i went where my mother went at the time

then he and august left to wander up the alleyway

i went over to my grandmother
still drinking beer and smoking on the porch

honey, there ain’t nothing good here, she said

there ain’t nothing but bastards, gypsies, and blacks
on this street, she told me

but i knew better than to believe any of that

thanks, charlie.

5 comments:

Bukowski's Basement said...

So sweet and earnest, John ... Reminded me of my old block in Orange, NJ.

Lynne H. said...

Once again, you snipped away the curtain and let us peek inside "life".. Well done.. exceptional..

John Grochalski said...

Anthony and Lynne,
thank you very much.

Chkn said...

Brings back so many memories when I read this peice! Even though it isnt about the reader, it feels like it is some how. Brilliant!

John Grochalski said...

Chkn...i think learning to ride a bike is pretty universal.