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Sunday, November 09, 2008


by Christina Pacosz

“My point is that it has to be both: beautiful and political.
I’m not interested in art that is not in the world.”
--Toni Morrison

One spring night not long
ago, a barred owl
hooted from the ailanthus tree
outside our window.
Now weaponry of assorted caliber is what I hear

as I try to sleep soundly
enough to dream
and remember.
This past August
a man was found dead in the street.

I heard the shots that killed him
at 56th and Garfield –
three loud pops in a row.
Then, only a few nights ago
another man.

Gunshots and submachine
gun fire, a brief
and deadly duet.
And last night
windows open

to the dark
street, vehicles
at high speed –
maybe cop cars –
but turning over is difficult and painful.

Without my glasses
I can’t be certain
but swift cars at 3 AM
tear up and down
the narrow street.

You wake long enough
to ask, “What’s wrong?”
Facing east
trying to explain
my unease

as if dawn itself was a menace.
Despite October’s chill
the triplet of old windows
is open still.
Our butterscotch cat

a pale shadow
hunched on the edge
of the mattress
gazing east.
At 5 AM

the local station
has Breaking News:
about 2:30 AM
an eleven year old girl was shot sleeping
in her own bed.

Her condition is now upgraded
to stable.
This child’s survival
a reply to the lethal greeting
from the predatory street.

Christina Pacosz has been writing and publishing prose and poetry for almost half a century and has several books of poetry, the most recent, Greatest Hits, 1975-2001 (Pudding House, 2002). Her work has appeared recently in Jane’s Stories III, Women Writing Across Boundaries, Pemmican, Umbrella, qarrtsiluni, Letters to the World. She has been a special educator, a Poet-in-the-Schools for several state and city programs, and a North Carolina Visiting Artist. For the past decade she has been teaching at-risk youth of all ages on both sides of the Missouri/Kansas state line.