North Park, North Park

North Park, North Park
A lament of the gentrification of a neighborhood
by Michael Horvitz
The cracks in the pavement
urging disrepair  
Dried leaves and dust
from the trees—
decorating sidewalks  
Young black sculptors—
sweet-smiling girls
laugh and leave
hand-worked plasms
of bubblegum
after its sweetness is gone  
Women toting babes of
unmatched skin tones
stare off to distant lands,
the babes smile and gurgle  
Girls with greenish hair
laugh & walk in smoke
and blue-jean lovely asses
The wretched of the earth
their brothers, gather at corners
to chat or pray
Anyone lives here—
we bare ourselves, no shame
in suits or rags
(or nothing—she was actually naked: Mr. Tom saw her, too)
no one stares or cares  
Facades improve and fall
into disrepair
improving, falling
heedless of their benefactors  
Miniature banners of
peeling paint
adorn walls in purples, greens
exposing history’s old, gray traces
Fragments of cups, wrappers and scraps
wedge in nooks and corners
coaxed into art-deco by random gusts  
Seeds of fibrous weeds or grass
drunk with old and heavy rains
emerge from cracks or concrete seams
…a deep green provident  
Cars weary, neglected
seep Rorschach black traces
on ancient pavement
People shuffle back and forth
losing a shoe
a half cigarette
…a bounty for the homeless
The man like a soft, stout chimney
staggers on blackened feet
bellows in an orange beard,
“You never cared!”
His ghosts ashamed or shameless
have since abandoned him  
Pigeons, birds of
drink happily from potholes—
flash their shimmering greens and blues
without regard to their disease  
The dry brown man has
no legs and
sharp chin—
ignores my sympathetic gaze—
Enjoying life in smoky haze and magazines  
Paras’ newsstand has it all:
plus candies, maps, and covered nudes
and anything for anyone with
craves or urges on their minds—
of intellect or passion…
We all drop in for lottery
and watch the thieves who linger
timing getaways on slow buses…
Progress at 30th and University
in a burst of pastel colors
announcing: la Boheme
200 condos
where old shops once stood
…You’ll see,
they’ll spruce up Scolari’s old bar
and make it a crime
to cry at bus stops.  
They’ll ban the free dog biscuits
at Caffé Calabria
and make loving dogs
illegal in the business zone.  
The wheelchair dame—the one
with canyons of wrinkles
–they’ll confiscate her cigarettes (for
her own good)
Gyros ‘n Chicken—Najib’s joint—
will lose their pool table
to keep away dark kids
with dirty backpacks  
Then they’ll kick out African
  card players
from the Ethiopian coffee house,
make them can their Renoir painting
And they’ll evict the noisy skateboarders
plus the solemn proselytizers standing by  
They’ll make Vince take
his cardboard blankets
to the next improvement zone  
And make it a crime for
the old accordion player
to wear wool pants
in the summer…  
And the cracks in the pavement
And the dried leaves
from the trees—

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