Posted here 6 months ago, in May 2018. Lately revised.

Back in the Day

When I was five years old,

I would read the dictionary

in the small tiled room

where reading got done.
When I was five, I was intent

on unlocking the mysteries of the pantry

at Nana's house

where the light always seemed

a tristful tint of brown.

When we moved to Morris Street
and I turned six,
Jimmy Napoli, twice my age, who lived upstairs
taught me the Our Father and the Hail Mary
on a small green chalkboard in the basement.

There was always the smell of sauce
(which we called "gravy" in East Boston)
coming from triple-deckers
where Italian grandmothers
laboured over hot stoves
all day every Saturday.


these same grandmothers
could be spotted
sweeping dust and litter
from their sidewalks
on weekday mornings.

I had more 45s of r-&-b music

than any other kid on my block!

Dad got them from his friends
who owned bars with jukeboxes.
When the songs would fall into disfavor

and not get played anymore,

I'd inherit the records:
"Everybody Plays the Fool";
"When Will I See You Again?";
"Rock the Boat"---

don't tip the boat over!

I can recall Bicentennial Minutes
and my month-long case of pneumonia
and Jimmy Carter beating Gerald Ford
19 to 1 in Mrs Stuart's
second-grade mock election.
That quiet girl, Lisa,

who lived up the Heights,
who said three words all year, maybe four,
was the only one to vote against
the Georgia governor.

Age eight brought sandlot baseball
though I was gloriously

incompetent with the bat,
incurably hapless at catching flies.
Even worse at football,
touch football, no tackling
(though Coach Smith
did plenty of hollering,
high-strung Vince Lombardi wannabe).

Then came the Blizzards, plural, of '78
with outlandish heaps of snow
in January and February.
Then came the heartbreaking Red Sox loss

to the Yankees in October,
in the one-game playoff
where Bucky Dent
homered off Mike Torrez.

Soon, it was farewell

to the Manassah E. Bradley School
and hello to the Joseph H. Barnes:
I'd heard rumors of tough kids
who'd beat up a "brainiac,"
but my fears were unwarranted.
No bruises, physical or mental:
just gentle mockery for wearing "high-waters,"
pants whose legs didn't go all the way down.

The girls, I found, were merciless,
but I liked them anyway.

Poetry by Thomas DeFreitas The PoetBay support member heart!
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Written on 2018-11-08 at 09:51

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I like the vivid details in each stanza and the brutal honesty in the tone.