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by John Kent
The old neighborhood
is still there,
just the frame...
the buildings still sag.
Up there, around 137th Street
and Broadway.
The faces are gone
and the RKO Hamilton Theater;
of course the trolleys,
the tracks still linger.

Up on Amsterdam Avenue,
the Washington Theater is gone,
where you could see two movies,
five cartoons, a chapter,
an animated horse race;
you got your numbered ticket
at the door,
if your horse came in...
a stash of free candy, soda;
four hours of dreams...screams,
at a Saturday matinee.

The park is smaller,
the streets narrower,
the concrete islands that parted
with their shrubs, paths, benches,
are still there...
only the shrubs remain.
The hill that takes blocks of buildings,
from Broadway
down to Riverside Drive,
is shabby now, uptown;
poverty more noticeable now.

The Fifth Avenue Company buses,
those double deck green and whites,
that leaned precariously
when making stops...gone,
to where things go, when they die.
The old elementary school
is still there,
five floors of aches and pains.

No trace of Bickford's cafeteria,
or Thom McCan's,
where my mother always
bought my shoes for school;
always made sure I looked nice
for the fall term.
My mother was young, strong,
She sparkled.
My mother is gone...

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Copyright © 1999 by John Kent. All rights reserved.