The Big Chill

Days bleak, bitter with winter.
No heat in their building, night
coming quickly, Manny’s wife
stoic, kids colic, “holding money”
gone with the economy.
“I prowl streets.” Manny tells me.
“Ghostly with all these drifts,
past shut down workshops,
factories. STOCKS SOAR,
BANKERS OPTOMISTIC,
UNEMPLOYMENT FIGURES
DISAPPOINTING, HOUSES STILL
FORECLOSING. Tattered newspapers
flutter down the walks grabbing at
Manny’s steps like specters haunting
the Philly sidewalks. I know, I’ve
been there and when you finally get
home at the end of each payless day,
the houses in your working class
neighborhood, which hasn’t seen
work since 2008, seem to huddle
together like headstones in a
graveyard. I’ve walked those streets
too. Where every street sign
seems to read DEATH’S ROW
instead of Pine, Maple, Elm and
Oak. And there’s no going back
to what was before, because it
isn’t there anymore.

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