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  • The Bronx Housing Court, and: For My Uncle Bobby, and: Days of 1996
  • Michael Brown Jr. (bio)

THE BRONX HOUSING COURT

You worked all night, and this is your day off.Somebody coughs.You've come to bargain with the law.

You leave the D Train's piss-soaked hole up to McClellan street,And stand in line from eight to nine in desert heatBecause, if you get there at nine, you'll never be on time.

You worked all night, and this is your day off.Somebody coughs.You've come to bargain with the law.

They've pasted red eviction notices to your door,And you've gone down to court beforeTo tell them that your Section 8 has been cut off,That you've sent them the forms.You're reapplying. You've sent in the forms.Somebody coughs.You tell them you're just waiting to hear back,But, evidently, they've lost track.They paste some more eviction notices to your door.

You worked all night, and this is your day off.Somebody coughs.You've come to bargain with the law.

There's been a back and forth,A miscommunication.You've tried to talk to them directly, but, like moths,Their words huddle around the pale flame of the unpaid rent.A miscommunication. [End Page 531]

You worked all night, and this is your day off.Somebody coughs.You've come to bargain with the law.

You get a letter.You've got to go to court.

You worked all night, and this is your day off.Somebody coughs.You've come to bargain with the law.

The doors swing open at exactly nine.Security guards with angry or unfeeling faces whineInto the line that gathers at the front. "Belts off!"

You worked all night, and this is your day off.Somebody coughs.You've come to bargain with the law.

"Put your belongings and your valuablesInside the bins and pass them through the screen,"While you slump through the metal detector, half asleep.

You worked all night, and this is your day off.Somebody coughs.You've come to bargain with the law.

So, you walk to the booth where they tell you the roomWhere you will have to wait for them to see your case.The person there, who's chewing gum and looking in your eyes,Peeks at the form and points and says, "Go standIn that line there." So you go do that then.

And you stand on this other line and they tell you,"Your court date's gonna be in June. Come back then." WhoSays this? A clerk who looks through you to the delugeOf bodies entering this pit. You take the form.June 26th. That's it. You leave the pit.

You worked all night, and this is your day off.Somebody coughs.You came to bargain with the law. [End Page 532]

FOR MY UNCLE BOBBY

I have prepared an elegy for you,Bobby, and one for Robert, too,But, having only met you as a child,A baby, I'm forced to make wildSurmises about what it is I lostWhen you two died, 'bout what it cost.Forgive me, if I fumble your lives here.I'll try to be, at least, awareWhen telling the one story that I know,The one about you, Bobby, thoughI wonder, now, if it was really Robert's lifeThat I've confused for your own life.You both were twins, so people must've doneThat constantly. How our lives runLike those contorted sprinters in Dante,Each struggling for their own wayAgainst the bodies they must break to claimThe finish line. Though they will maimAnd milk the flesh they've fled in violence, rushed,Perhaps, the skin, as if it brushedBarbed wire, may hold fragments of the flesh,Delivering them in the meshOf the conjoined and broken flesh to air.Part of me thinks that that's my fear.I have prepared an elegy for you,But mostly for myself through you. [End Page 533]

DAYS OF 1996

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Additional Information

ISSN
1939-9774
Print ISSN
1939-6589
Pages
pp. 531-536
Launched on MUSE
2020-11-18
Open Access
No
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