Broadside #44 (Fall 2016 / 16.10)
It’s not always a downer or dangerous to live
here like they show you on the news. What they
don’t show you, can’t show you is the feel good
feeling I get when I no longer need to turn on
the heat and the windows are open and the box
fan is going and I can smell charcoal and lighter
fluid in the air though it’s not really there or it
could be there and someone somewhere in
this part of the city is about to blast Everybody
Loves the Sunshine from a car and neighbors
sing along or hum along and neighbors feel more
like cousins, and ordinary days feel more like parties
and there is no beef in sight, not even on Martin
Street. And in these moments, the neighborhood
boys seem so far from death, seem so
much more than statistics and stereotypes
suggest. Not that they’re angels with shiny gold
halos, but in the right light they look like they just might be
with their wide, glowing gold, smiles.
Author’s commentary: I wrote the poem Angels after watching the news and thinking about how so much violence goes on in Hartford, especially the north end (where my poem takes place), but when I’m there visiting relatives or friends, nothing ever happens. Martin Street is one of the streets I constantly hear mentioned on the news. Carjackings, shootings, fighting, gang and drug activity, –sometimes even in the daytime– are some of the crimes that plague this area, but on some days you would think you were somewhere else, somewhere nice because everybody on the block would be getting along and all the kids would be surrounding the ice cream truck or playing on the basketball court, someone would be playing music loud from a car, and it’s like an instant block party. And though we know it will all change tomorrow, that one of these boys might end up dead tomorrow, in that moment that thought is so far away. In that moment everyone seems perfect and innocent like angels.
Melissa McEwen is a poet from Hartford, Connecticut and her poems have been published in various literary journals, anthologies, and magazines such as Rattle, MiPOesias, and Black Magnolias.
Comment on Broadside #43, November 2016.