A free-verse poem about two different worlds on opposite sides of a town.
|The old man and his dog
are out walking at two o’clock
at night. The man is retired,
hence is no slave to the clock;
neither is the dog, whose bladder
dictated this walk.
Their neighborhood is upper
middle-class, with manicured
lawns and well-maintained homes.
The street is totally deserted.
All houses are quiet and dark,
their occupants safely asleep.
The only sounds are distant
car noises from the freeway
and the occasional dog barking
as they walk past their house.
The street is well-lighted, safe,
and secure even for an old man
walking this late at night.
In the quiet comes the muffled
sounds of four, no five, gunshots
from the lower-class neighborhood
blocks away on the other side of town.
The man stops and listens.
Soon police sirens can be heard
racing to the scene of the gunshots.
The man wonders if the details
of these shots will make tomorrow’s
news. Probably not, as gunfire is
a common occurrence over there
in the poor part of town. Probably
just a drug deal gone bad or maybe
another drive-by shooting, and
these are never reported unless
someone was hit or killed by the
bullets. Just another routine night
for that neighborhood, where
people are out on the streets
doing business this late at night.
The old man wonders what it must
be like to live in a neighborhood
where gunshots in the night are
a commonplace event, where sleep
is interrupted by sounds of violence
on the street outside your front door,
where a stray bullet may come whizzing
through your bedroom as you sleep.
Indeed, what must it be like to live there?
A young boy in the poor neighborhood
lies in his bed, awakened by the gunshots
on the street outside his house.
Afraid to go back to sleep, he wonders
whether any of his friends were shot or
killed this night. He hides under the covers,
wondering what it would be like to live
on the other side of town in the upper
middle-class neighborhood where
the rich people live in safety. Indeed,
what must it be like to live there?
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