Street View

Today a friend sent some coordinates,
Google Maps being one way to pass some time,
Funny, a few days ago,
I was checking out my grandparent’s last house,
Well, next to last,
But the one I remember best.

So, anyway, my friend lived through a changing time,
His neighborhood went from home
To heroin’s kingdom, an open market for soul-stealing,
A place so taken that even the shock can’t restart people’s hearts
For making a difference in a place
That desperately needs a break.

I compared my existence to his,
More suburban, small-town America, a museum really,
The bad parts there, but not close to the hotels,
Not near the tourist attractions,
Well beyond the gated communities
Privately secured for the fortunate ones.

I never grew up on that side of the gates,
Nor did I ever experience the kind of life of my friend
Until I left the Colonial Capital,
And landed on what I thought was the edge of civilization,
43rd and Walnut, Philadelphia Pa,
Distributor on the corner, grocery store across the street.

There was a bit of culture shock,
The twenty-four hour nature of the city is something to learn,
The sirens and gunshots are not easy to get used to, but
My haunts were nothing like what Kensington would become,
Needles everywhere, business conducted on every corner, hope dismissed,
My one time there, I had trouble breathing, it seemed no oxygen was in the air.

The little street views present a terrible picture of Kensington,
Yet, my last house in the ‘Burg looks good, peaceful, historic,
My only house in Philly has aged well, too,
Groceries and beer are still a few steps away, but
There are trees, they are mature, regal,
How could two neighborhoods change so much?

One in the throws of collapse, the roads collapsing in distress,
Just as the veins of the junkies are unable to be hit.
One in a renewal, money flowing for public landscaping,
The blooms of the trees enhancing the new life the neighborhood.
It’s sad that there are such disparities, it’s sad things go the ways they do,
Especially, when the balance is so out of whack.

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