Monday, February 27, 2012

Hal Sirowitz


Your mother used to live
on Bathgate Avenue in the Bronx

while I was dating her, father said.
Even in those days it was a bad street.

Men were hanging out in front
of stores, obviously not employed

in "nine to five" jobs. What they
were employed at was anybody's

guess, but it certainly wasn't legal.
I saw someone lose a hundred dollars

at a game of craps in the time it took
to walk the length of the block. I once

felt a breeze over my shoulder, heard the sound
of gunfire and hoped the shooting wasn't at me.

I didn't want to be an anonymous victim,
But what I'm really saying is I was so much

in love, the crimes in the street couldn't keep me away.
That's what love does—makes you feel invincible—

makes any neighborhood seem safe.

Bob Holman reads "Through Pink-Tinged Glasses:

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Hal confesses: "I wanted to write something about Bathgate Avenue in the Bronx. I Googled and saw photos of it when my parents were alive. We lived in the Long Island suburbs. That was supposedly a step up. But where there were no sidewalks was basically telling strangers to stay away."

HAL SIROWITZ is a 1994 recipient of an NEA Fellowship in Poetry and is the former Poet Laureate of Queens, New York. He worked as a special education teacher in the New York public school system for 23 years. He has written six books on poetry and is arguably best known for the volumes Mother Said, My Therapist Said, and Father Said.

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