As Soon As It Touched the Sidewalk

streetview

Here’s a sad poem I wrote about a town in Southside Virginia where I lived for five years in the 1980’s:

 

Built Over Hell

 

We said it was built over hell

because it smelled like tobacco and sewage

because the snow melted as soon as it touched the street or sidewalk

because the summer in the cinderblock

convent shaped like a giant shoebox was breath stealing and smothering.

Later, because Steve Perkins died of cancer before he reached thirty,

and his mother did too, and so many others,

breathing that air all their lives.

Because the ghosts of the Confederate soldiers who died in the Crater

kept walking around on Center Hill Circle and scaring the hookers

with their sweaty, blood crusted faces, hoarsely calling

“Over here, honey!” in their chewed up lung throats.

 

DowntownPetersburgVa-2

 

center hill pburg
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