View of Camden, New Jersey, 2015
From an aerial view,
the city appears blighted,
gray smoke from the Ben Franklin Bridge south.
Even Philly, north, fares better…
those sharp-witted lights of brilliant history.
Boarded row home. Poppy packs powder in zip-locs,
loads them into his son’s backpack, sends him off
to middle school. Says don’t come home without the money.
Daughter struggles with homework. Poppy says
don’t bother. In a few years she’ll be in middle school.
Red brick school building. Demolition red.
Teacher rings a bell in a classroom.
Time for silent independent reading
She gestures students back to their desks.
Teacher as example, pulls out her Sue Grafton
mystery. Yolanda swears in Spanish. Home language,
so teacher lets it go. And reads on….
Kinsey Milhone, lady detective, draws her gun
and foils the robber’s break-in…
Quason grunts, pulls out his high interest low level
book. Snorts from the rest, but they follow.
…Kinsey drives her Volkswagon in California
Wind sprays the ocean. Colors are warm golden-hues…
Someone passes gas. Laughter shatters. Fingers
pinch noses.Teacher rolls her eyes, keeps reading.
Hasan points out the flies over Joey’s ripe book bag.
Teacher wishes to be Kinsey.
For twenty minutes, sixteen troubled students
pretend to read, sleep, swat flies. One teacher gets lost
in a world where a lady detective solves all the problems.
inscribed on the walls ofCamden City Hall where
the great poet spent his last years
in this city)