Another Poem about Washington, DC

Snowflake Mandala

I walked down Euclid Street, in Northwest Washington, DC, a black neighborhood of working class families in the 1970’s many times.  Now it is a very upscale street with ultra-modern apartments and condos priced from $300,000 to $900,000 dollars. So, this poem, I wrote in the seventies, is dedicated to those families that made this street memorable to me.

Euclid Street

Greenness grows in this ghetto
cleanness neatness

(dirtiness and bareness
this we know)

But

Trees do tower here
and lawns small as match covers
are neat behind wire white wooded fences.
Flowers like flames flood from
yards and trees.
One large full bloomed pink rose
stands starkly alone
before a pealing gray plaster home.
Ignoring the gray littered concrete
delicate violets and blood purple leaves bend,
and almost hidden behind one fence
soft velvet blossoms rest.

Do not say these yards are not green.

Or that the sky is always gray.
On days rare as a trusting smile
the sun blasts the sky clear and bright
as new washed windows.

More children than doors grow here
free as waves of smoke
playing
“I shot you and you ain’t dead”
cursing
“I’m gonna beat his ass”
They speak without fear
and question only with
the curiosity of newness.

The women sit on porches of row houses.
Old women quietly watch worlds walk on.
And the other women, young
and not so young
carrying children, without children
faces work worn and warm
walking wanting wishing
for space and time and dream fulfilled.

Men stagger and stumble and swagger
across sidewalks
tired, torn, without a revolution
but alive beyond the slight breath.

And young men
who think they are cool
so jive, they only fool
themselves.

Life smolders here
within the dark walls
of our black homes.

Life boils here

like a rising tide
to flood
to wash the world clean

to begin a new creation.

12 Comments on “Another Poem about Washington, DC

  1. I love this poem! Beautifully observed and expressed. Wow! It reminds me of Richard Blanco’s poetry (the inaugural poet). I love all the alliteration. Thanks for sharing it. Share more!

    • Thanks Gary. What’s so sad, is I wrote this poems over 30 years ago and got very little support with my book or positive responses. It’s good to know they’re standing the test of time.

  2. You know I don’t know much about poetry, but I do know when a piece of writing, in whatever form, can pick up the reader and drop him into a time and place. This work succeeds so well in that way.

    • Thanks SO much. It’s a shame it’s taken me so long to realize that I really am a good writer. Better later than never. I do appreciate your comments as you are a writer and a scholar.

  3. Showing us that colours to life exist in all worlds, moving in all directions, both beneath and upon the surface, faded or bright, to worlds in motion, or static in their moments.. Loved the poem, and the string of sapphires woven with in the words.

  4. Pingback: Right Back At Ya! | ericjohnbaker

  5. Hello there, I am from Austria and my name is Bianca 🙂 I just discovered your poem and I like it a lot. It displays the many colours of a city so well…I want to ask you a favour – may I use this poem as an impulse text for one of my final students at her final exams? I will provide the source, of course – so would that be okay? This would be fantastic, she would be thrilled and for sure do very, very well. Greetings from Vienna from me (who loves to write poetry herself 🙂 )
    Bianca

    • Thank you for your interest in my poem. I feel privileged that you think it is worthy of being used to inspire your students. So, yes, do use it and any other of my poems. I would just ask, that you would ask the students if you could send me their responses, if it’s not too much trouble. If you could scan them and send them as PDF files.

  6. ps – moreover, I am a practitioner of Arhatic Yoga and deeply involved in the teachings of GM Choa Kok Sui and Padmasambhava (Tibetean Buddhism) … so a hearty Atma Namaste to you!

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