I went there,

just down the block from where she’d lived for,


almost the whole time I knew her.


Wasn’t easy, but I did it.


They’d asked me to read one of her poems


– that’d be the easy part –


and maybe say a word or two


– that’d be the hard part.


Like I said,

it wasn’t easy, but I did it.


All I had to do was put her poems in my pocket


– that’d be the easy part –


take a shortish bus ride down to town


with those pieces of the past in my pocket,

walk through the present,

by which I mean

the gentrified,

totally flipped,


white folks’ heaven of a lived-in destination

that keeps on marching around

like some kind of


palace guard

in the place where her

so preciously affordable and oh-so-vibrantly diversified


used to stand on the corner and smile


– that’d be the hard part.


Wasn’t easy, but I did it.



listened some,

scribbled some,

walked to the stage,


the past-that-I-still-wished-would-be-our-future

out of my pocket,

unfolded it,

and read for a bit


– that’d be the easy part –


and then I took the present out,

as if it were some kind of




but trust-me-it’s-totally-legal

concealed carry of a flagrantly tossed-off poem.


the one I’d rudely written while other folx were reading


– that’d be the hard part

‘cause I don’t like it when I‘m rude –


and this

is what I read,


“In another time and place

but in-this-room-this-very-room,

Roscoe Morgan,


quit pickin’ in the middle of a song,

brought his right hand to his mouth

as if

by accident

he had spit the lyrics out between his teeth

and was stuffing them back in.

Rubbed that hand across his upper lip.

Looked at it.


‘Sorry, folks,’ he said,

‘thought my nose was bleedin’,

but it snot.’”


And then

“Oh, Aralee,”

I said,

“I miss this neighborhood almost as much as I miss you,

especially when I’m in it.”