You know you used to stay out
until the shadows got real long
You know you used to be ten
You know that your secret hiding place
really wasn’t secret
it was just where adults didn’t want
to stoop down
to crawl through packed wet dirt
You know that campfire ashes
stay hot through the next day and
You know that campfire smoke
can’t be inhaled and exhaled
like cigarette smoke
You found those out the hard way
You know you used to pretend
not to hear your parents
yelling your name from the back deck
You know you used to be scared
of the big kids,
the cornfields at night,
the neighbor’s dog
that started to act funny
when you were watching it
for the week they were gone
You know that streetlights
sometimes turn on
in the middle of the day
if the sky grows dark
You know that friendship isn’t the same
after they move away
and come back once for a visit
You found that out the hard way—
that boys, together every summer day,
act like strangers to each other
after being apart
NEIGHBORHOOD by Jeffrey Letterly

Photo used under CC.


About Author


Jeffrey Letterly is a conservatory-trained composer/pianist with a master’s degree in interdisciplinary arts. His credits include music played by the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, sound documentaries broadcast on public radio stations, several performance art pieces, short films, stories, poems, and art objects. His poetry has appeared in Clackamas Literary Review. Born and raised in a one-stoplight town in Central Illinois, he now resides in Syracuse, NY, where he works in the health insurance industry and sometimes puts on shadow puppet shows with his wife.

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