Poems, Personal Stories, and Observations

Posts tagged ‘neighborhood’

Halloween 2022


The eve of All Saints’ Day was magical, in a good way. For one, it had been raining, right up to about the 6 p.m. start of the trick-or-treating. [Ohio has townships, a subdivision of counties. The township suggests (or is it a law? I don’t know) that trick-or-treating should take place between 6 and 8 p.m.] I had been doubtful as to whether we should even bother giving out candy. Suddenly at about 5:50 p.m. or so, the rain stopped.

My husband helped by putting out a little firepit at the end of the driveway, which is a custom for many in our neighborhood. The homeowners sit by the firepit while giving out candy, and they may have a party themselves.

I wrote the following after it was all over.

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It’s quiet now. The clowns and freaks, saints and sinners, ghosts and ghouls are gone. I stand in the driveway, on the darkened and empty street, wondering what it all means. The silence after all the childish shrieks. The candy bowls empty. How did I come to be in this crazy world?

We talked with neighbors whom we don’t often see. One came over on his own, and when we got short of candy, he gave us some of his own. I went over to another neighbor after we had run out of candy again, just to say hi. I found out that the husband is related to a political candidate. When these neighbors learned that we had run out of candy, they gave us some of theirs.

Sitting with my husband by a firepit, we ate pizza and drank seltzer water between candy giveaways. A citizen patrol car drove by twice. The sounds of laughter in the neighborhood were comforting.

Shortly before 8 p.m., our neighbor to the right yelled, “Have a good night; we’re calling it quits.” Somehow I got to asking him what he did for a living, and he explained. Here was another neighbor whom we hardly ever talk with.

So quiet and silent now. The voices are gone. The air is still. The weather is mild tonight. We are blessed to be alive.

The Stealth of Survival

The deer are seldom seen by day on our street.
They stay in the nearby woods
Until all (or most) neighbors
Are safely in bed.
Dim darkness will be their cloak of safety.

Like ghosts, they silently emerge
From the nearby woods,
Grazing on cold lawns and shrubs
And leaving behind
Only their telltale tracks in the snow
To surprise us in the morning.

Counting Jacarandas

My spouse and I,
We go for walks
In neighborhoods,
And sometimes talk.
We stroll, we speed,
We take our ease —
Counting jacarandas.
He strolls, I speed,
Then turn around
To  match his pace,
So we can talk.
And all the while
We take our ease —
Counting jacarandas.
Some days we all
Must take a break,
Slow down the race,
Reduce the pace,
Do silly things
And laugh awhile —
Counting jacarandas.

The Fruit and Vegetable Lady

The fruit and vegetable lady
Sells amaranth leaves,
Plums and lemons,
And other things.

She smiles when I ask her name.
“I have lemons for you,” she says.
She sits or stands in the shade,
Most days.

Her garden must be quite a thing.
Daily, abundant things she brings.
But always, the amaranth leaves.
(She calls them spinach.)

“Hot peppers today,”
She says with a grin,
Bringing them from
A bag within.

I hope she is making
Her livelihood,
By grace of God,
In the neighborhood.

To Martha

[To my childhood friend, Martha]

Muddy puddles
And balls of clay.
Rain-slick streets
And friends at play.

We wandered ‘hoods,
And built big forts.
We played in sprinklers
In polka-dot shorts.

We drank from hoses;
We played hula-hoop.
We ate salty seaweed
On the neighbor’s stoop.

We dreamed big dreams
Of solving mysteries,
We made up rhymes
With hickory-dickory.

We played recorder,
A kind of flute.
We sat on doormats
Made of jute.

On Halloween,
We made a haul.
A load of sugar,
Ten pounds in all.

We played outside,
‘Til it was dark.
We’d stay all day
At the neighborhood park.

We played mah-jong
And shared our tomes.
Your encyclopedia
You always loaned.

I don’t know where
That world has gone.
But as time travels,
It’s just begun.

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