Rio Linda (Beautiful Way)

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I’m remembering when I
Lived off a major boulevard,
Which doesn’t ever happen
When folks life well reward
With any save those most precious
Yet least tangible things
Which dedication to what’s truly
Valuable in life brings

That boulevard was famous
In all its city wide
For harboring more garbage
Upon its either side
Than even garbage lovers
Found themselves comf’table with
Encroaching here and there
Into traffic’s already narrow width

Of pavement — stained, of course, and
Dreadful dusty, it was true
Splashed and splotched and splattered
With great gobs of gunk and goo
But still, had it relieved been
Its flyspecked furbellows of
There really would — no, really — have
Been room for vehicles to move

Well, no, I cannot prove that to you
It would take six men
A derrick and a backhoe
To clear some space again
So you’ll just have to be content
With the solid word
Of someone from whom you have never
Any falsehood heard

Okay, well, then, so very little
Next to what these other dudes
Try to put across on folks
With their ghetto attitudes
Okay? Can we get past this street’s
Status as an urban myth
An’ get along my touching,
Funny, educatin’ story with?…

Okay, so there I was, okay?
— Both feminine and white
Which in that place and at that time
Standing under any light
As she who wishes to avoid
Hazards the darker shadows of
Assumed by every passerby
Is to be advertising love

But, be that as it may, that bus
My transportation be
Avoid life’s basic errands to
I did not have the luxury
So standing on that corner
In the disrespectful view
Of every Dick and Yahoo is
Just what I had to do

Now, right there where that bus rolled up
There sat an empty lot
The up and coming young designers
Had somehow forgot
With, right beside, a typically
Worn and rundown place,
As did the whole bleak length of that
Poor street contin’uous grace,

In which there dwelt a handful
— Never knew accurately
Quite how many of them
In that smallish house there be —
Of gentlemen deserved the name
Better than many I have met
As high upon our social ladder
As it’s possible to get

It’s true that these men probably
Their “brand names” didn’t know
And true again through every day
They did in dusty garments go
I’ll bet that none of them could tell you
One fork from another
But I am here to say they knew
A sister or a brother

No matter what its age or style
Neither the color of its skin
Could in these open minds and hearts
Aught prejudice begin
Did I pronounce my words
With a patrician inflection?
I had not by this their
Plain spoken condemnation won

A sense of (false) prosperity
Came from my thrift attire
Not fooling them enough
Any resentment to inspire
Though’t had in truth been known to do
The downtown banking district round
Just being myself, in these wise eyes
No disapproval could be found

Nor pruriency either — only
Friendliness and brotherhood
Blossoming amid the thorns
And thistles of that neighborhood
They made their scanty living
Hauling fro and to
Salvaged lots of furniture
That vacant lot into

Hoped to sell enough each day
To semblance of a dinner buy
Hoped no bored policeman
Their harmless enterprise would pry
From the one hope of small success
Comes to the overruled
The underpaid, the overtaxed
The overworked, the underschooled

Now, while your av’rage downtown snob
(Whom av’rage be as av’rage get)
Whether you’re looking bad or good
You may securely bet
Will try to score as higher than,
On arbitrary scaling, you
As can a poor pretender
To pretension ever do

These people paused their paths
Regularly beside my own
So, while the gritty details
Of our lives were never known
There grew up there between us
Such a solidarity
As even at hights rarefide
There passing seldom comes to be

After a while they took a bit
Of an exception to
That needful stance I must maintain
In the public view
And do you know what those men started
Doing when I showed up there?
About the kindest service
I can think of anywhere:

They picked up yet another piece of
Heavy, and brought me a chair…

The poet/editor of this website is physically disabled, and lives at a fraction of her nation’s poverty level. Contributions may be made at:

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Ana Daksina

About the Author: Ana Daksina

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