One Friday in Winter While We Gentrify Back Bay the Wrecking Crew Stops for Gas by Michael Daley

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This poem is part of a special section of the Mid-Atlantic Review, Celebrating Black History, and selected by editors Khadijah Ali-Coleman, Carolivia Herron, and Rebecca Bishophall. To learn more about this series read a blog post on the Day Eight website here.

One Friday in Winter While We Gentrify Back Bay the Wrecking Crew Stops for Gas

by Michael Daley

Downtown in Boston, the man at the gas pump is freezing.
I’m in my wolf-fur parka from the secondhand lady’s out in Quincy.

He’s in a windbreaker: this Black man saw through plaster dust on my face
unmasked relief the demo with the suburb boys crammed in my car, is over.

They joked they might do more demolition when they hit the bars.
To paystubs, brain cells—anybody who asks.

In the backseat, they thumb through my creased copy
of Bishop’s Geography III—Can we speak of poetry?

When he locks my gas cap, he asks me to hire him: Got my own tools,
I’m a good worker—you can ask any these fools. Waves at cronies in the store.

Wind rips a scar through snow piles carved by commuter tires,
a grimy half-life as distorted as history.

I offer polite regrets—he looks away, toward new customers.
I imagine my crew seething if he once revs a saw.

On the shortcut home, Black sons shovel their sidewalks.
The boys sulk and stare. I drop them far from this Boulevard

where gentry’s one art demolished lives and homes and we,
we were just the right tools for the job.

Michael Daley is the editor of The Madrona Project (Empty Bowl, WA), an anthology series and the author of Reinhabited: New & Selected Poems (Dos Madres, OH), Telemachus (Pleasure Boast Studio, WA), and True Heresies (Cervna Barva, MA), all published in 2022. A retired teacher, he lives in Anacortes, Washington.

Featured image in this post is: “Boston skyline from Longfellow Bridge September 2017 panorama 2”, by King of Hearts, Creative Commons, via Wikimedia Commons.

Editor
Editorhttp://www.dayeight.org
Bourgeon’s mission, through our online publication and community initiatives, is twofold: to increase participation in the arts and to improve access to the arts. Bourgeon is a project of the not-for-profit Day Eight.
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