Historicity/13th & Lafayette

Tall grass     blue 
chicory   on every 
yet to come corner    Unruly 
movement    Unsung 
tracks     horse mud     paved 
in cobbles     Carriage paved meant 
horseless    tail fins     Filling 
station open late     Left off Route 66          
the interstate siphon     Old underground 
tanks leak     Unknown something keeps 
nothing happening    on this corner    Nothing 
but air and 
weeds    seeding themselves





Outside, a flat abdomen
with a six pack of streets and alleys 
roughly scrubbed of structures
and a divot in the middle of the street: 
a coverless manhole in the dark 
with a knot of shadows 
to guard its messy secret tangle
of plumbing: veins and electrical conduit, 
gas lines and wind pipes, intestines.
Only the street lights and stop signs concede
there might have once been something
more: an answering pulse, the cords
of neighbors and strangers, some braided,
some chafed and bleeding together, 
some outright wild, but related all
in their constant jigsaw tumble of stories 
piled up over fences, drifting in through
second story windows, stopped to talk or brushing past 
on the sidewalk, unavoidable in and out
the corner store, upstairs apartment, big family
house full of dinner and kids
gone missing, gone for sprawl, grown up
along clean, uncomplicated streets lined 
by the same six houses and a messy 
                 Slowly, a new knot grows
in our gut: a need to be known, to live close,
the small round hole of shadow
drawing us in, pulling us back.




Jennifer Tappenden is Poet Laureate of the University of Missouri – St. Louis, where she is an MFA candidate in poetry. She is also founding editor of Architrave Press and a 2011 Pushcart nominee. Her poems have appeared in Euphony, Slipstream, The Cape Rock, and elsewhere.

Photo by Simmons B. Buntin.

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