In This Our Neighborhood

Kurt Heinzelman

Once known all over the city
for its offal--hock, ear, trotter, heart--
our Foodland was shortened to FKB,
then reduced to offering catfish steaks
and bottled mole sauces, and is now
the House of Redemptive Love.
The parking lot stays unusually packed.
The rest of this strip mall will, for a fee,
cash all third-party checks for a host
of discount pagers, secondhand clothes,
and day-old bread. Down the block,
next to what was once a Pay-Less Mart,
the "Pay-Less Employment Office"
has taken its sign down at last,
a kind of mercy. Sleet has stripped
the boughs of mistletoe from the crowns
of trees, strewing the ground with green snow.
In their absence, every limb's an upright
public servant, impaling trash. Crack
by crack, Johnson grass inches past
the service lines on the netless tennis court
behind the Kwik Stop. It's a love game
in the maroon, black-glassed Cadillac
idling at the corner with its mink-lined dash,
its runningboard lights flashing fuchsia.
There's a * 99c BLIZZARD * at the DQ
and there's a car window going down
at the drive-through: freakin' in the mornin'
freakin' in the evenin'
so you can feel it in your boots,
this sole music, where the footprint

of the flight path is evolving human toes)
don't ya wanna get freaky with me?
Anything hanging on a wall shakes.
Plates. Palms (their pedioles hooked
in whatever cracks they find). "It'll
freeze your brain." One by one a row
of sacks passes out the window.
There is a sound of corks. Champagne
pops of a drive-by--or just empties
lobbed like oaths onto a tennis court?
You can start to smell things adrift--
the hallelujahs and the burning rings,
the barbeque, mi corazón,
and all the salsas of calamity.




poem notes

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