Graphite on rag paper, 11” x 10”
On a southbound summer walk
Passing The Gables after leaving Clark Park
I am stopped short, on a dime,
By a cliché, “frozen in time”.
There, second from the end
Of a childhood avenue, clean,
Quiet, still almost “Dick and Jane”,
Sits a homely Victorian,
A standout in a long anonymous
Row—not for beauty, but ugliness.
Sixty years ago, the porch was enclosed
Not in turn-of-the-century style
With twinkling windows like dining crystal,
But as a solid brick box, a proposed
Rental office, landlady’s supposed—
Totally legal—cool explosion.
An elder now, I can feel the isolation
Of the Granny I then knew on the corner
In her lively chitchat porch rocker
Shoved out of view, long before resurrection.
Shoved out. That too happened to me
When, colored the same, Madame Landlady
Kicked us into the cold, goods and all,
Despite Mother’s Asian flu, her newborn’s squall.
Rent paid, Daddy still lost the ground floor lease
With backyard, front porch liberties.
My childish world was blown in a blink:
Free library, my smart-girl fantasy rink.
My exit was not intimate, not thoughtfully unkind.
No after-school buddies left behind.
*In September 2020, the Center for Disease Control, in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, halted rental evictions through the end of the year, citing evictions force people to move around and share housing, thus increasing risk of infection.
First poetry editor at two pioneer feminist magazines, Aphra and Ms., Yvonne has received NEAs (poetry, 1974, 1984), a Leeway (fiction, 2003), a Pushcart Prize (vol. 6), a BRIO award (1990) and other honors. Recent print poetry publications include: Black in the Middle: Anthology of the Black Midwest (Belt), Geez: Bone & Breath (Geez), CV 2- Canadian Poetry (vol. 43, no. 2), Home: An Anthology (Flexible), Horror USA: California (Soteira), Is It Hot In Here Or Is It Just Me? (Social Justice Anthologies), Quiet Diamonds 2019/2018 (Orchard Street), 161 One-Minute Monologues (Smith & Kraus), Bosque #8 (Bosque), Event (49.1), Yellow Arrow Journal (vol.5.2), Philadelphia Stories, and Dappled Things. Selected online listings can be found at: www.iwilla.com.
Charles Cooper graduated from the University of the Arts with a BFA in 1988. He attended the Yale Graduate School of Art receiving an MFA in painting and printmaking in 1995. He has been an assistant professor at the University of the Arts since 1997.