Today’s poem is honestly the most recent piece I’ve written. Yes, I’ve edited some older work since, but this is the “newest” poem I’ve crapped out in recent days. I wrote this in the fall during my office hours. If memory serves, not a single student came to visit me that day, so I actually got a chance to get something down without interruption. Now, this certainly isn’t my favorite piece, but I’ve been encouraged of late to start working on new poetry as I’ve been in some sort of rut (in terms of poetry, that is). To date, only one person besides myself has read this piece.
After my parents split up, my mom moved into a little neighborhood in Harrisburg called Paxton Crossing. We actually ived in a townhouse right across the street from my cousins, Matt and Josh, which was a hell of a lot of fun. To this day I have vivid memories of that neighborhood, perhaps more so than any place I ever lived. That’s saying something, actually, as I have a terrible memory. Today’s poem came out of a very specific event from my childhood, though the poem has nothing to do with it. Confusing, I know. Allow me to try to explain.
There’s a mall in Harrisburg called the Colonial Park Mall. Years ago there was an arcade inside the mall called the Spaceport. I was at the mall with my mom playing video games while she shopped. When she was finished, she came to retrieve me from the arcade, only I didn’t want to go. She literally pulled me away mid-game after I refused to stop playing, and under my breath I muttered, “Bitch.” Apparently it was louder than I thought, as my mother heard me and promised that she’d be washing my mouth out with soap once at home. Upset and dreading the thought, I decided to run away from home rather than endure her punishment. Once home, I took off running. I managed to get all the way to the end of Paxton Crossing, where Ionoff Road met Progress Avenue. At the entrance of the neighborhood was a huge, grassy hill. I stopped there and sat on the hill. Why didn’t I go any further? Because I was afraid. The other reason, if memory serves, was because I wasn’t technically allowed to cross the street by myself. Ridiculous.
That hill that I sat on was the trigger for “Moving.” For some reason it’s what I envisioned when writing this poem, though that’s honestly the lone connection, as silly as that might seem. Enjoy.
Pressed firm into the hillside
was the Sold sign protruding
like a giant’s sick incisor.
I thought at first to remove it
would save it, would keep the land
mine. Stupid. And yet here
I kicked and thrashed, stabbed
the heel of my boot into its thin,
single leg until it teetered
and, at last, split. There wasn’t
much to do with it then,
so instead I turned away
and started walking, not to work
or a matinee or the pizza joint
where I could drink all day
on twenty bucks. Nah, I just
hoofed it down the closest road
and didn’t stop until a horn
told me I needed to, sounded
itself like a missile, woke me
from whatever walking slumber
I’d succumbed to, and kept me,
intentionally or not, from death.
I never thanked the driver,
but instead headed back
to the hill, quickly even,
and did my best to replace
all that I’d razed.