Pikesville

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

further constricted

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. 

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