A Wish to Slumber  (by a Rockaway native)

This reflects the contradiction between what the promise of Rockaway was and what it deteriorated to, the contrast between the natural beauty and majesty so readily accessible yet so underappreciated. I was born in St. Joseph's hospital in 1959 and witnessed the decay and abandonment of a great community. What seemed like almost a "magical" place to live became eventually Sodom and Gomorrah. The beach, the boardwalk, ocean, memories of the scent of salt air and the rockaway shoreline...are bittersweet.


through a smoky haze
of urban oil-drum bonfires
he emerges

neon blister glare
reflects from unflinching eyes
to cast an illusion of perception
within a vacuous stare

reluctant feet shuffle
to an asphalt city beat

he enters a building lobby
and is assailed
by unsolicited
bone-jarring hip-hop bass

elevator's busted again
so it's up three flights past
urine,fecal,stairwell swill
he tip toes , sidles ,sidles ,slides
holding his breath to no avail
olfactory sensory

he proceeds down the hallway
last door on the left
apt. 4h
turns the key
steps inside
police lock
homefree !

he returns to the relative sanctuary
of his tenement apt. cell
at last his workday is done
as his head falls hard upon his pillow he reasons;
"some restless sleep , is still better than none"

through the night
the sounds of the city streets (beach channel drive 40's projects to be specific)
invade his dreams
the blast of sirens
a gunshot in the distance
profanity rises above the din
as if a thunderous crescendo
to a symphony of screams

eclipsed by mayhem
as chaos rules the night

a young girl trades her virtue
for a vial full of poison
a child reaches for a mislaid gun
two more victims fall prey
to the insatiable bloodthirst
of urban blight

human suffering
is witnessed
by eyes which have long forgotten
how to weep

his soul is weary
his body numb

all he yearns for now
is that one
ever elusive
good night's

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