Vignettes in Yellow Brick

We were kids
In the old apartment,
Just sprouting into adolescence
Not in poverty
But we knew
Who the Bailiff was
And somehow
We were always saved
And could always stay
The bricks were yellow
The hallways dim with dirt
Broken windows
Smelly carpets
Pothole pavement
Freeze in winter
Boil in summer
Lazy landlord
Nothing fixed on time
But pay the rent we must
On time
It was home I think
For nigh on ten years
My brother and I
We two, inseparable
Bunk beds, one room
That was us
He had the top one
He was lightest
But not light enough
He came crashing down
On me, one night
Bolts not tight. What a fright
That got fixed, then one night
We had spaghetti for dinner
He got sick
Over the side, down the ladder
We fell in with little hooligans
Maybe we were hooligans at heart
Made stun guns
From sawed off hockey sticks
With clothespin triggers
Holding tight bands of rubber
With bobby pin bullets
The Police did not like this much
And we heard about something called
Juvenile Hall
Guns confiscated
Wrists slapped
Started a gang
With pretend wooden swords
And Mom’s old sheets for flags.
You’ll put someone’s eye out with that
The side door at Yellow Brick
Had a tall narrow window
So you could see outside
Coming down the stairs
It got smashed
And was left open
For a day or two or three
Our friend Stanley
Got used to running down the steps
And right through the open gap
Until one day the glass man came
And we didn’t know
We heard a loud crash
And screaming
Stanley nearly died
He was so cut up
The neighbors brought towels
They were soaked in his blood
There was a fire in the night
Outside in our underwear
In October, all clear
My little brother had a special friend
Named Stewie
But they moved away
His Mom Sophie would drive him
For visits, sometimes overnight
One time, she came to get him
They went to go home
And were never heard from again
Died on the road
Bad crash
Our little girlie friends
Started growing a little
I liked Rosie, and brought her cookies
Puppy love
There was Arlene too
She took needles every day
And the backs of her legs were red
We loved Elvis
And at thirteen came The Beatles
Change in the world
I went to work as a bagel baker
At thirteen. At thirteen.
Life had new things in store
It was our time
To leave the street we called
The Yellow Brick Road.



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