Sunday, May 08, 2011

The Sidewalk Ritual In Ghettoland


A spoken word performance of my "Sidewalk Ritual" prose about a ritual I noticed in front of a crack motel in the ghetto.

Friday afternoon
in unincorporated (disembodied) America.
Casual day...the usual.
3 in the afternoon.
I just woke up.
I slip on the bluejeans I have been wearing every day
for the last two weeks,
maybe three,
pull on a dirty white tee shirt
and some cotton socks I've
been wearing longer than the jeans.

I pay Don my rent while he's outside his manager's door
explaining to some broke Puerto Rican man
why he has to lock him out of his room.

It's time for the Sidewalk Ritual.
A middle-aged black man
is doing it right now.
It's my turn.

I walk out of the motel entrance
to the street sidewalk,
the one that faces busy Crenshaw,
Momo's Korean call girl bar,
and The Giving Faith Fellowship church next door.

The middle-aged black man
is looking up Crenshaw,
then down.

"There's nothing down there for you, you know," I joke.
"Yeah," he laughs, "Gotta keep looking, though."
He walks back in to the motel.
I step out to the curb.
I look up Crenshaw.
I look down Crenshaw.
We don't know what we're looking for
when we look,
we just look . . .
up and down the street we look
probably for Hope.

I leave to check my email.
Another crack motel inmate
steps up to the curb...

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