Ode to the Hood

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Contributor: J. R. Trensey

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4-banger wheezing clunkily along
then a rust-eaten pick-up truck, filled w/ salvaged furniture
followed by a shiny black Expedition, bass rattles your brain & eyeballs.
Travel any way you can—
riding a stolen, black-spray painted bike
by foot, running (from authorities)
or walking, like I do, through this hood
on rugged, cracked concrete sidewalks
strewn w/—
fast food containers, crushed styrofoam like snow
socks, broken flip flops, (must have gone home barefoot)
chicken bones & ample glass shards
amber & green beer bottles
enough cigarette butts to build a house
spent condoms & lighters
dolls & toy trucks w/ missing parts
and of course piles of refuse too long gone, identity lost,
I could go on.


In this hood, if you're white & female,
you travel in a pack, or as fast as you can
if on foot, project a black belt air
you're fortunate to get from here to there
without being offered—
$20 for a throw
a joint (laced w/ PCP), a crack pipe, a 'daddy',
& all your dreams to come true.
You form a callous overcoat,
but the gooey center is that
the piss & body odor & rotting
wafting off the decaying condemned homes
is the closest scent in memory
to the only 'hood you've known as home.
It reminds me of my family.


Who I worked so hard to get away from,
who I worked so hard to 'do better' than—
Master's degree, professional career,
and enough self-help books, therapy
to keep me out of the ward,
moved to a new city, made a new life,
just to find that I moved back
to the ghetto
and it feels like home.
The only home I've ever known.

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Jessica R. Trensey earns a living as a white-collar cube dweller to support her endeavors in dark poetry & art in Indianapolis.


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