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A Few Blocks North of Helmut Lang


How quiet it is in the projects at noon

in this terrible year on a Tuesday in June.

I walk with the dog just to survey the scene

and all that I see is surprisingly clean.

I spot no graffiti on the brick or the signs

no trash or destruction on the pathway that winds

from 18th to 19th, from high rise to low

and no one is out for there’s no place to go.

How easy to think that the trouble is past

to forget that the flags are all stuck at half-mast.


But the patches of grass are all sparse in the quads.

The windows are small on the projects’ facades.

It takes money and leisure to tend to a lawn

and views do not matter when blinds have been drawn.

The playgrounds are locked, the rats are asleep.

The water runs cold and the anguish runs deep.

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