Daily Archives: August 19, 2014

Overpass Banners

Originally posted 7/31/2009.

Overpass banners
in red white and blue lettering
flapping above the commuter traffic:

Welcome home,
Sgt. Orozsco,
Private Kenney,
Major Dent.

Love you,
Corporal Bronson.

PFC Rodriguez.

I pass under them
almost daily
without much thought.

But then,
one this weekend

with black letters
and black borders
simply said

Sgt. Conroy,

and when I close my eyes
I can still see
how it was fastened tightly
by each corner
to the fence
and did not move at all.


Dave Penny Speaks Of Providence

Originally posted 1/6/2012; original title, “Dave Penny In Providence.”

I only walk
in Providence
at night when

the city
looks its best,
dressed in love’s crafty haze,

red eyes blinking in pairs
on the stacks of
the Narragansett Electric plant,

signaling that there are
ghost fires still burning
in the pile of brick,

calling out
the extent of damage
there still is in the air.

I walk wherever I can
in Providence, but only at night,
just to pay tribute to it

and honor the dim power
cradled in this crook
of the upper Bay

where what we withhold all day
comes out at night
to define us.

Many here are refined by day, 
striding these cobblestones
in good artist’s clothes, admiring

the East Side brick,
avoiding the South Side, 
slumming in Olneyville,

dipping their well-shod toes
into the Armory district, feeding
their faces on Federal Hill.

They remind themselves
of this at night when they overstate
the light and recall that 

“Providence” is a name given
to the source of good fortune,
and clutch that comfort close. 

I walk this city at night
not to fear but to bathe
in the hangover

of the once-rough port,
the vanishing villainy 
of the dashing Mob,

the elder deities
once conjured here;
to imagine

their red eyes blinking at me
at night in Providence, city
of disguises, city that was once

and always will be
my only comfortable

Some of us do our best work
in the dark
when we almost touch 

what we refute
by day — when we can at last find
others who know who we are

simply because
we feel more at home
in this rough, honest night.