By Fred Pollack
During our year there (Clinton era), I
walked. But the buildings
of our complex looked out
on parking lots. Black asphalt, bushes;
I recall a row of trees, nothing behind them.
The road connecting the parking lots
was also black asphalt. It fed into
a street, unremarkable, with (probably) roads
to other complexes. It ended at
a shopping center, not much larger
than a stripmall, no bushes or grass, one pricey
market. That was the first half-mile.
Then a bridge (over tracks? I recall no trains); then
the difficult part – I mean
I seem to remember the highway
abutting, squeezing two remaining blocks
of retail. The men sitting round
on red plastic chairs
in the barbershop were old (vets, I thought),
the barbers were old, they talked around me.
On the wall hung a calendar and postcards.
I forget if I went there more than once.
Outside, a high wire fence
the narrow sidewalk, separating it
from construction. Construction made the road
(or was it the highway? Was there a light?)
harder to cross. On the other side,
fast food. I walked south several blocks
(bungalows, probably) to the former
train station, lately remade
into an early software store,
which never seemed to be doing much business.
Across from it, trees in
high weeds; some bare spots, almost a path,
a white scarf, bottles. It may have been
a sometime homeless camp; this was before
the charities distributed nylon tents.
That was a mile.
Fred Pollack is the author of two book-length narrative poems, THE ADVENTURE and HAPPINESS, both Story Line Press; the former to be reissued by Red Hen Press. Two collections of shorter poems, A POVERTY OF WORDS, (Prolific Press, 2015) and LANDSCAPE WITH MUTANT (Smokestack Books, UK, 2018). Pollack has appeared in Salmagundi, Poetry Salzburg Review, The Fish Anthology (Ireland), Magma (UK), Bateau, Fulcrum, Chiron Review, Chicago Quarterly Review, etc.