Monday, May 30, 2011

Portsmouth Poem II

I say these words to the red brick sidewalks, the tourist shops and the broken Indian promises: walk softly and carry a big wallet because Portsmouth traps the rats with the big hair and the plastic cards that go "pop!"

Whisper to each other in the now illuminated alleys where the fingers found flesh and the knives dug deep. The ghosts of those dead colonists walk among your recyclable sushi boxes.

Fog lies low on the wide river hiding the flood tide from all eyes except the sleepless lobster boat captains in their rented Maine shacks.

The summer shorts have been freed from their winter prisons and Oggy has an eye full of legs on waitresses back from college to pay off loans and pay for the gas to drive them from Rochester to where the tips roll in for low cut shirts like the tide off Four Tree Island.

Two kids are playing a grudge match 1 on 1 basketball game at the foggy south street courts, the only figures alive tonight as the great white spaceship knocks out eleven warnings to those souls left unsaved in the great tip off between God and Satan. Satan is taller but God has the longer reach.

Change is the mandate in Portsmouth. You can hear it in the wind through my gray beard and the worn nubs on my swollen fingertips as they drum a plaintive rhythm on the wholesome granite curbstones your taxes paid for so every street in Portsmouth is now only wide enough for one car. Way to go city planners! Or maybe they are smarter than I know and plan for the days when cars are outlawed and these streets are plenty wide for electric bicycles purring along in utopian bliss as cats and mice play in lawns of cauliflower.

These brick sidewalks have been my bed and my roof, my friend and my savior over the years. Don't you spit on them in disrespect as they gave birth to freedom in a time when Lobster rolls wasn't a delicate dish to eat with your martini but something a sea creature did when it died. Walk proud on my brick streets and if you must vomit your frothy blue ribbon then do so with dignity and in the morning say a prayer to Mather von Strawberry who brewed the first keg of beer on these shores and died from botulism.

Awake ye draft beer drinkers and rejoice because your worries will soon be buried in the new baseball field near the junior high school, buried deep beneath the old bleachers that will be the stage for a new generation of romance and betrayal and wins and losses. Dig all you want but your accumulated conquests will never be found: First base with Rose McCorley in a tent near the Sagamore river. Her wet lips on yours. Her breath like a hurricane electrifying your sexually challenged brain. The second base gravestone of fleshy globes, forbidden in a seaweed jungle near New Castle. Reaching Third Base on Pierce Island with a girl whose name you never knew but the gleam in her eyes was irresistible and that Bruce Springsteen song you both knew the words to brought you together in a blissful embrace that dissolved with the sobriety of the eastern sun's rising heat. And the home run in your parent's bed when they were out of town on a teacher's conference with the girl of your dreams who would marry a systems analyst from college but who did pretend to love you at that moment and it was enough. You made it sweet and the scoreboard is gone, along with all the bases, now in an out of town dump. Those bleachers where you first made eye contact with the shy girl who had just moved to town have been trucked to the dump leaving behind a freshly dug field with good memory drainage. All those initials and hearts carved into the wood are gone too but a new crop of games will be played.

Even the old houses get face lifts. Dust isn't welcome among the living. Visit a museum if you want to see the past because the walking dead, pale and bent before the gravity of disease and war will, nonetheless, obey their biological imperative to live until their last breath is ripped from their lungs. In all the games of baseball I've seen at the holy Leary Field I've never witnessed a batter walk back to the dugout before taking a third strike. No one ever gives up in Portsmouth.

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Creative Commons License
Man in the Van by Oggy Bleacher is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 Unported License.