1220 Fisher Avenue

Image of Jacquie


27 readings


Jury Selection

I went to Philadelphia to see the house that I grew up in.
It’s being demolished to make room for one of those fancy grocery stores.
There is no longer a park for the kids to play.
But the library is still there.
I would go afterschool and read romance novels,
And trace the cover of vinyl records.
The librarian was old and smelled like Jean Nate.

I had my own room in our house,
On the top floor of our three-story home.
The walls were painted an awful shade of blue,
My parents were expecting a boy that they never did get.
They got me instead.
I slept upstairs alone, the only daughter of a blues player.

One morning I woke up to the sound of a familiar tune.
It played without my prompting,
An awful lullaby that I never could play right-
My genius blocked by a piece of meat hanging from my top lip,
The result of a fight with Barry Jackson.
The tune was too salty and too sweet, like the caramel popcorn,
We would get from Coney Island.
Or like my mother before her morning cigarette.
The gift of music is too a heavy burden for a child to bare.

I wanted to go back home to see the house one more time.
It was a dreadful winter in Chicago.
With my father marrying another woman;
My mother confined to her bed, with one of those diseases of the mind.
I have no siblings to comfort me, or a girlfriend to say “Are you okay?”
The house, my only relief from the hysteria and the Chicago cold.
It’s easy to walk in the neighborhood now.
All the old dead, the young moved to higher ground,
Barry Jackson is now lifeless.
The owner of the bodega on 13th street shot and killed.
Nothing looked the same or reminded me of happier times.
But I like it that way.

Even my husband, after my breakdown, decided that he was weary of me.
Despite the knowing touches and kisses hours before.
My children will come to this place.
Asking questions that I myself have yet to answer.
Here is what I learned being the daughter of a blues player;
One never has a place to truly call home.


Image of 2019


Image of Poetry

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