phillip capper
by Alan Walowitz

A history buff, I chose the spot on Mayflower, which I was certain I’d
but probably would never be able to find again
the way the streets wind around each other and stop dead at the Hutch,
then you gotta walk under the el on Westchester
where the streets on the other side tend to have new names;
or you make a wrong turn, walk a while, and get mesmerized
by the Thai bodegas that sell exotic flowers outside,
and Ecuadorian skin treatment joints offering lava facials,
and the China Criolla with the combination plate of chicken wings and
     fried rice
and platanos for $4.95 which could get anyone through dinner,
and soon you find yourself at 95, which you can’t get on anyway without
     a car,
but why would you want to when you’re looking for where you parked?
This part of the Bronx, Tremont, ought to be a wonderland
of hills and rills and rocky outcrops and kids climbing trees
but it’s where Robert Moses bulldozed right through people’s kitchens
to create the promised land, mobile f-ing America;
he’d make sure there were plenty of ways—north, or west, or south–
for a guy with a car to get his ass out of the Bronx.
But now it’s just a beautiful dream—half the people only got the wheels
     on the bus,
which take you round and round and no farther than the city line,
and the other half can’t even find where the hell they parked.

SOURCE: “Tremont” originally appeared in Autumn Sky Poetry Daily.

PHOTO: “Subway at 173rd Street, The Bronx, New York City” (2/12/2008) by Phillip Capper, used by permission.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: I work with first-year teachers who are trying to make their way in the world of education in some of the most challenging schools in New York City.  The English teacher I was watching gave the students the assignment to write, vividly, about their neighborhood.  I did the assignment too, but I wrote about the part of the Bronx I was in, which I got to study very closely the previous time I was there when I couldn’t remember where I had parked my car.  Most of her students did a better job than I did, but they’ll have to send their own writing to Silver Birch Press!


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Alan Walowitz has been published various places on the web and off.  He’s a Contributing Editor at Verse-Virtual, an Online Community Journal of Poetry, and teaches at Manhattanville College in Purchase, NY and St. John’s University in Queens.  His chapbook, Exactly Like Love, is in its second printing and is available from Osedax Press. His second chapbook is seeking a publisher and is currently called What Happiness Looked Like, but, as his tailor once told him, will alter to suit.