Enter Home Planet News Poetry of Issue #5                         Page 43
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riffin' on the 56

Fri: July 30th: the nytimes headline reads:
Doctor Opens Fire at Bronx Hospital, Killing a Doctor and Wounding Six

Dr. tracy sin-yee tam, age 32
is the doctor shot to death by dr. henry bello
on the 17th floor of Bronx-Lebanon Hospital--
half a block from where leah, my grandma,
once lived--

i head up two tuesdays later,
shortly after the funeral for officer Miosotis Familia
shot at random on 183rd by a disturbed Alexander Bonds,
walking past the police officers,
i start at the Grand Cafe, on the Hospital
first floor, up a few steps to the left and you are there:
small diner classic luncheonette counter,
sign on the wall:
Coffee
              makes all things
Possible

the cafe busy, i speak spanish
to the lovely waitress she cant believe
how well i talk and i walk out on to
the Grand Concourse i had forgot

how wide and glorious, then down to 1130 sheridan,
i pass my grndmas ground floor
apt, a bright color window sign proclaims
    Tia Lina's day care& afterschool
where every saturday i was
marched to get fitted with sweatshop
remnants my grndma, pins in mouth, pleated
into skirts--hated it only longed
for store-bought--

up the set of concrete stairs, back to the concourse,
every building an Apt for Rent sign,
back down 167 no more Kent theatre,
some kinda food mart where once fish
glistened on ice, and pickles in huge
barrels and from frantic mom
  ran away in blissed- out glee

  spotless cleaners and its orange awning
gone, but still a cleaner, now the awning
red and on this very corner,
sherman & 167 one cold morning, eyes
transfixed up at windows saxophone
riffs have not heard before or
since--heartrending, complex,
piercing the wind--

down sherman,
a young mom,
well-rounded & stacked,
hot pink neon hair in
upsweep, all-over
tats, a kid at her back,
pullin groceries outta
the stroller--skin wet
w/sweat--no sprinklers
no trees, no park,
no playground or playstreets, no
swimming pool, you got
tenements and bodegas,
hills & stairs,
the foothills of
the catskills--

then down the block to my old building,
1170, now one of four little pink rowhouses
w/one car driveway, across the street,
  tenements just as they were when
i blocked my red-head pal karen from
getting smacked by mrs. larue--
 mrs larue w/hair of blue-- and for my pains
got slapped fierce across the face--run upstairs
 tell my mom, she says you go right back
down and say your sorry--

now i am facing 185 mcclellan
where we move when we move up
my first year in high school and
three african guys sitting on a grey car
across the street one smiles, says
you just wanna refresh

i turn the corner
past the fruit and veggie vendor,
the african women sitting on the concrete
selling their wares,
the Fish House, past dr birnbaum's
office, now an abogado's place,
dr birnbaum used to come by the house
to give my penicillin shot, he did not
have a gentle hand, i would scream,
and he would say,
you can put her back in her cage now

every blade of grass, if there
was even one, every pore, every scrap of
dna, every prayer even if
you dont believe, each & every particle

i must must must get outta here--

7.15.17: 3:18pm

  Eve Packer