North 40th Street, Omaha

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It can be hard but also isn’t
to remember once living here,

six or seven years old and sitting
alone on the walled porch watching

strangers and the occasional
cool cars passing by, unable to recall

what dreaming of then was beyond
new polished chrome and bright colours

to replace the grey primer of what might
have just been for damage and age. Or inside

at those bigger times, believing in presents
unwrapped on the living room floor

as shiny and bright as a customised
Christmas and that sheen of a better life –

then with mom’s homemade smorgasbord
afterwards where I do hold on, perhaps that

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red wagon the one gift to take another
time up to the main road and corner

of Hamilton Street, panhandling my used
toys from its flat bed all worn dull by then,

small change for the bakery’s doughnuts
now a music store, windows filled with

pumpkin heads instead. And in the back yard
seen fenced off like a demarcation at the side,

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my escaped pet garter snake flattened
by someone’s random car as yet another

act of indifference, no more or less
thoughtless than my peeing into the rainwater

collected in a bowl for washing her hair
on that woman’s own front porch, or so

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I was told she had, but enough for this
believing if there was payback to be done

way back then in Omaha, in a duplex still here
and someone else’s beginnings as their home.

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