Across The Street

Across the street
Joe has hung
an American flag
with one blue stripe
out the window.

Calls the cops 
on the Black folks next door
at least once a month
for “looking in his windows”
or “parking too close to his driveway.”

It’s a narrow city street
in a low down part of town
and no one’s got room enough
to park their cars without being
on top of each other,

but Joe still blows the snow
from his driveway
against the windows of 
his neighbors all winter long
in an expression of his displeasure.

Loudly calls the folks next door
“the monkeys.” The cops
always come when he calls,
never do a damn thing,
but come out every time.

Joe likes to complain out loud
to everyone about all of this.
“What? I’m not supposed to have
property rights just because
I’m a registered sex offender?”

Joe’s son has a daughter.
I see her now and then
on the porch
sitting on Joe’s lap when they
come to visit.

At least, 
I assume it’s his granddaughter.
There can’t be any other
explanation. There just
can’t be. 

One time, someone
put a brick through
Joe’s windshield. He
called the cops and blamed
the next door neighbor.

The cops came 
and talked to everyone.
Kept them separate,
said they could 
prove nothing, did nothing.

I wish there was
something just and right
to say here,
but all I’ve got is that 
I’d move

but where is it going to be
any different unless
you go so far away you can’t
be found? Until then, I take comfort
knowing that I still have

more bricks in the backyard
should it come down
to that again, and 
the cops have yet to cross the street
whenever they’ve come:

the same cops who told me
that I should have known better
than to live here after the break-in
a few years ago, that things like that
never get solved in this neighborhood;

the same cops who took four hours 
on a Saturday night to come look at
the totaled cars when the stolen car
sideswiped half the street and was left
at the bottom of the hill in pieces;

the same cops who came through
our backyards with assault rifles
and dogs looking for a killer who
(we later learned) walked right by them
in drag down the sidewalk.

I could go on and on and on
but it’s all happening across 
the street right now, and 
I can’t move, so here I sit
on my bricks without a flag to fly.

About Tony Brown

A poet with a history in slam, lots of publications; my personal poetry and a little bit of daily life and opinions. Read the page called "About..." for the details. View all posts by Tony Brown

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