The White Rose
The Walk Begins
A dreary evening, early dusk, the slate sky meets the grime of the streets, hard to tell, at times, where one ends and the other begins, the way it was, the way it is now, the way it will always be.
Hookers showing up for work, punching the imaginary time clock, in at seven, out at five, a ten-hour shift spent on their backs, on their knees, on the road to salvation, jacked up on the cheapest painkiller available but unable to lessen the real pain, no medicines for that, no medicines at all, their pimps satisfied with the 80-20 split as long as they produce, keep producing, twenty, thirty tricks per night, never less, then collapse, as dawn rises from the ashes, onto a stained mattress in a corner of an abandoned, stained like their hearts, a stain no Tide can wash out, sleeping like the dead and wishing for oblivion.
Four brothers around a trash can, fire blazing inside, taking off the chill, rappin’ the truth in harmony, a truth no one hears outside the Hood, truths about e-co-no-mic odds so dismal they don’t even register, odds not spoken about on the walled street back east of here by five miles, might as well be five-thousand, no bridging that gap in this lifetime or the next, truths about poverty passed on from father to son, like herpes ‘cept there ain’t no magic pill to cure it, and the bitterness rising like bile after a hard drunk.
Syringes crack under my shoes as I walk.
In the Shadows
Rats stare from the alleyways, their eyes red, unafraid for this is their town now, reclaimed after decades of human decay. Junkies in the same alleyways, their eyes red, unafraid for death is near and with it release.
Cracks in the sidewalk, crack cocaine, crack whores, crack houses, crack babies, cracks in the cradle and the silver spoon, little boy blue and the man on the moon, heating up that spoon, getting’ it ready for delivery.
Burned out houses, blackness inside, an obsidian metaphor for a deeper ash, dust to dust, once thriving neighborhoods, twenty, thirty years ago, mothers and fathers raising families, sharing dreams, building lives, now urban blight, sickness, decay, the dreams long gone, the families long gone, the mothers and fathers long gone, bulldozers scheduled soon, knock it down, tear it down, make room for progress, gentrification they call it, pretty soon three-piece suits sippin’ lattes over laptops, making deals atop the bones of those crack whores and homeless, the way it was, the way it is, the way it always will be.
Dogs run in packs on these street, four legs and two, armed with teeth or armed to the teeth, never read On the Origin of Species but living it all the same, weeding out the weak and establishing a pecking order.
Where have you gone, my Bonny Blue, probably dancing with the pimp that brought her, melting down with black tar, all memories of dollhouses and proms bulldozed as well, scattered by the north wind, dissolving, dissipating, lost in the disease and dis-ease of this asswipe portion of Americana.
Where Is God?
In God we trust, my ass, God is waiting for the makeover, doesn’t even know this address, nowhere to be seen, His name not heard on one set of lips, a myth, folklore, some slick marketing scheme for those with money and living in an alternate universe, not here, not on these streets, not where the street signs are used for target practice and not one solid pane of glass can be found.
Detroit advertising is everywhere you look, the charred and stripped remains of Fords, Chevys, Buicks, Dodges, a flat tire one minute, sold for parts and burned to a crisp the next, row after row of them, street after street of them, four-wheeled memories of a city once riding high and smoking the cigars of success, now just like this Hood, waiting for a demise thirty years in the making, just frames now, parked in front of storefronts with plywood for windows, or storefronts with iron bars for doors, where have you gone, Joe DiMaggio, now that the blonde bombshell is stone-cold and pushing up Daisies?
This is the world I walk through as dusk is pushed aside by the darkness and the soul-less take to the streets, the new business men and women of the 21st Century, God bless capitalism, selling commodities you won’t find in an L.L. Bean catalog, coats bulky to hide the Glock 17’s, the switchblades, the poppers, dusters, and widow-makers, all for sale, the price fluctuating with the clock, cash business only, or barter, my angel dust for your body, that sort of thing, timeless transactions passed down generation to generation, and you better believe that includes the young, big business that sex trafficking, ten year olds peering out second-floor windows, some in sheer, some in their birthday suits, no smile on those faces, no life in those eyes, counting the days until the sweet injection of ecstasy is one too many and they become an after-thought, like after-birth, flushed away never to be remembered.
Conversations are limited on these streets, the less talk the better, no eye contact, no small talk, mostly grunts and bastardized English, some Spanish curses tossed in, understood perfectly by the regulars, it all boils down to established creds, establishing stature, and never showing fear.
The Crips, the Bloods, MS13, Barrio 18, the Aryans, the Trinitarians, brotherhoods looking for a piece of the pie, looking for respect, looking for who knows what, the battlefields of today, an urban Khe Sanh, sing it with me, we are family, death rides the white horse, dressed in the colors of the day, funeral dirges replace the parades of yesterday, random shootings is all part of the scene, duck and cover taking on new meaning on any street corner,
And the noise is never-ending, a constant barrage of anger and helplessness, gunshots, screams, pissed-off music, bass so loud it rattles what windows remain, trash can lids, horns, more gunshots, threats, screams for help where none exists, and the general undercurrent sounds of hopelessness, like the Wall of Sound from Motown in the 60’s, sound almost physical in nature, infecting your psyche, pushing you forward, beating you down, sharing the constant truth, there ain’t no way out, folks, and you are just fodder for the modern day Donner Party, pass the salt and pepper, Homie.
Never in Your Wildest Dreams
But then it happens, no explanation for it, no logic can embrace it, no street-cred given to it, you see it but you don’t, you know? It’s there but it isn’t, that sort of thing, for how can reality be that damned distorted, makes no sense and yet it’s there, at the corner of Irredeemable and Revulsion, there, rising from a crack in the pavement, a single white rose, not some damned flower dropped from a dozen but a living rose, its roots sinking out of sight below, reaching to where there’s no telling, gaining nourishment from what source, what’s that shit, Bro, how can that be, a white rose?
And then an even odder thing happens, no logic to it at all, no way to tell anyone without looking like a damned fool on the downside of deranged, that rose, growing out of the sidewalk, is given wide-birth by everyone who see is, not one fool reaches down to pluck it, not one gangsta steps on it, no drunks piss on it and no rats chew on its petals.
It is allowed to grow!
2018 William D. Holland (aka billybuc)