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by John A. Grochalski

                         lawrenceville, from the doughboy
                           to the last neon soul food shops,
                      down the strip district butler st. end
                              will always be
                        concrete communal backyard scene
                              on denny st.
                        full of broken flat plastic tired
                                      big-wheeled marauders
                             lining up to race
                           lost summer day wiffle ball games
                           trotting home like Willie Stargell,
                    that big buddha american ballplayer
                                i used to watch on t.v.
                         late nights
                             sneaking into the living room
                       while dad slept on the couch
                       waiting for my mom to come home from work,
                      lawrenceville ethnic
                             seemed close-knit
                       bar laden cityville
                          where you could smell the fresh brewery beer,
                       noon in the blue sky summer,
                       all the way to penn ave up to spring ways
                              unpaved alley
                      where the scent reached my grandfathers nose
                         & he's off to make the round the corner bar scene
                   sweet lawrenceville bar scene
                        on butler st.
                                     all the way down to its oil stained 
                            packed w/brewery workers
                                      lonely lost soul relatives
                      speaking pittsburgh: "DAHN-TAHN & CHIPPED HAM"
                sad lonely lawrenceville rows of yellow brick townhouses
                           shaded by the sun, in the neighborhood
                           where my father, as a lazy-dayed young man, lived
                            dark haired,
                               crew cutted
                            blue eyed angel street kid
                           digging the Temps, Smokey, & the Imperials
                         while smoking KOOLS on the back porch
                              of his moms thick bricked townhouse
                            just 'cross the street
                        from where i was later born,
                    where i remember my father taking the long
                    walk up denny st. from his second job,
                            me as a little kid w/batman comics
                                      & star wars men,
                           my father reading the sports page;
                       a kiss from mom rushing out the door to work
                       i believed in america then, in my lawrenceville
                            where dad cooked cold sunny side up eggs
                                      onion burgers for dinner
                              on the ol' kitchen stove

                        i remember lawrenceville
                             poetry & grandmas meat loaf gravy
                          & peanut butter sandwiches
                           that i choked on as a fat rolly poll
                         little kid, happy
                       that seem miles away,
                          the 4th of july packing on grams front porch
                        watching fireworks over arsenal park
                                 & my brothers young cry,
                                  holding his ears
                               as the lights & colors burst
                                  from the beloved


© 1998, John A. Grochalski.

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