Globeville

Globeville.

Born and raised

Next to the corner of 45th and Washington Street

In the back of my father’s TV repair storefront
Once the storefront to my grandfather’s shoe and
Radio repair shop

Grandparents from Poland and Yugoslavia
Building Holy Rosary Catholic Church
My father in the first 1st grade of Holy Rosary School
Me in the last 7th grade before the Bishop shut us down

Across the street from the Platte River and the Slovenian Home
Where wedding celebrations lasted days
And Santa came to give us plastic net stockings
Filled with stale candy and hopes of toys under our tree

Across the street where the woman, who left her son
With my father’s mother to care for because she couldn’t
Any longer,
That woman who stepped into the freezing Platte River
to lay down for the last time,
Her son safely held in a family of nine,
One more welcomed without question
Because my grandmother understood 

Across the street from the bus stop
Number 16
That would take me on Saturday mornings
To the Paramount for a cartoon and movie
And candy from the candy shop next door
And a walk through Woolworths
Dreaming of adding another ceramic horse
To my collection
Dreaming of the Stockshow and cowgirls

Across the street, then across the river
The Coliseum where I would ice skate
Watch the Rodeo
See the Circus
And the Monkees, my first concert

Along side of I70
Exit ramp feet from my front door
On the other side and through the underpass 
Tunnel
To school, my friends, the pool, and ball field

Across the street from the river 
That would overflow its banks
Days before Father’s Day 1965
Filling our basement with muck and water
To the top
And ruining my mother’s wedding gown
One once destined for me
Dreams drowned

In the dirt and gravel in my father’s
Parking lot were stones
Glittery and pink and gold and beautiful 
My hands picking the perfect ones
And, eventually, the EPA digging
Up the dirt in the yards of the homes 
Because of contamination 
But not ours because we were a “business”
Even though we lived thereAnd in my forties the
retro peritoneal liposarcoma
That would grow in my body
Because of the industrial poison
Floating down on me and my friends
And family

And angels surround us, 
We, the ones from Globeville,
A place forgotten long before
People now who are forgotten, too
It is just the way
Of the people of Globeville
The immigrants who came

To forget their homeland
To make a new one and then
Move away again
To forget
To leave behind their
Sweet little homes
Groomed yards and white fences
With candytuft and violas 
Planted in their lawns
Left to the industrial waste
Leaving it to those who have even less
And are now forgotten even further 

And the dreams of Globeville
Eaten away by the consumption 
Of progress
Forgetting the eyes and hearts
Of those who loved
Tended bees
Made potica
Prayed and played ball
And cradled the son
Of a woman who took
Her last breath
Filling her lungs with
The Platte River
Filling her skirts with
Ice water dragging her below and
Taking her away
From her beloved Globeville.

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.

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Author’s Note:

Photo collage, Globeville, by Lex Leonard.

Poem and imaged appeard in journal issue #12 in Wormwood Press Media.

Suburban Solstice

The 9th Day of Christmas

It was the first day of the New Year.

Well, the new year according to most of the Western world. The New Year for Zorya started a few weeks prior at the Winter Solstice. Her friends, at least the long time ones, really didn’t know about this new journey she was on. Her family most certainly didn’t know. They wouldn’t understand, being staunch Roman Catholics. Tiptoeing outside the gilded box was not allowed.

She wasn’t flaky, as some would think. She just wasn’t a follower any longer. Her thinker self was beginning to show.

Zorya sat on the park bench. Snow covered her ankles. She should have thought about it before she left the house. She did wear a coat that zippered her tightly against the chill, but she didn’t like it. Zorya preferred to feel the cold on her skin. As usual her father complained as she was opening the front door for her exit.

She thought she was leaving early enough and was quiet enough not to shake up the household. However, the front door was right next to her father’s bedroom and he was up extra early.

“Where you going?”

“For a walk. Be back in about an hour.”

She always had to give the exact time of her return or else he would worry. Old age does that to you. And being an only child, even though she would be turning sixty soon, she was still seen as his “little girl” through his 94 year-old eyes.

Zorya tried her best to slink out the door without further confrontation.

“Put your coat on.”

“I’ll be fine. This sweatshirt is warm and it has a hood.”

Zorya liked hoods. It made her feel romantic, like those women of the past or in those Celtic pictures of pagan faerie-like goddesses in flowing gowns gliding through forests in sparkling sunlight with wild animals gently looking up at her, smiles on their faces.

Part of Zorya’s journey was taking her down this Celtic path. Confusion reigned. Zorya was a city girl, even though she now nested in the burbs, a choice made in deference to take care of her father. This was the closest she ever got to living in what other’s called nature.

She liked the sidewalks of downtown Denver. The bustle wasn’t crazy like London, her favorite city, or in New York where her other passion lived on stages under hot lights and costumes.

She saw beauty in the rush of traffic, a song some found annoying. Art galleries, restaurants, and the vast array of people gave her much to digest.

She grew up next to the off-ramp of I-70, a highway that split her neighborhood in half when she was five. The Denver Coliseum was nearby and her Januarys always included a visit to the National Western Stock Show, something she did with her dad.

She would ride her bike through the underpasses of I-70 around her Globeville neighborhood. Houses were built by early 20th century Eastern European immigrants. White washed gingerbreads were surrounded by neat sidewalks and fences with gardens now falling into disrepair after the highway fissure and the flight out.

She would pass the Russian Orthodox Church where her mom’s best friend Annie attended. The Polish Catholic Church was a block away from the Slovenian Catholic Church. Each having their own schools, hers being Holy Rosary Slovenian Catholic School, sat along her route, too.

She bounced carefully over bumpy railroad tracks that led car after car with coal and other goods through her neighborhood. Her favorite sound was and still is the far off moans of train warnings in early morning hours.

She would see the field and bleachers where softballs flew through the air on hot summer nights and of course, there was the swimming pool. Oh, the outdoor swimming pool where she spent her summer mornings in classes and afternoons in floating bliss.

This was Zorya’s nature. The smelter down the road and up the hill belched smoke. The packinghouses whose waste flowed into the river were beginning to shut down, another flight for more modern digs. The Pespi plant bottling brew that her mother would eventually learn to guzzle instead of Coors.

And the number 16 bus that would stop on the corner near her house next to the bar and gas station and lodge dancehall just outside her bedroom window. She would take the bus by herself on Saturday mornings to walk up and down 16th street gazing in department store windows, The Denver, May D & F, Neusteter’s, and when she was a teen, Fashion Bar.

Then she would go to the Paramount to see a cartoon and a movie, sometimes she would stay for the second feature, too. Finally, there was the root-beer float stop at the Woolworth lunch counter and back home again without anyone ever having to worry about her safety.

She’d watch the factories spewing air-born chemicals and the grey-green Platte River flowing by her bus window on the way home as the sun began to set behind the Rocky Mountains.

Zorya’s nature came to her on bone-chilling mornings when her dad got up through the night to flood the tiny back yard making an ice skating rink for her and her friends. Her mom bought ice skates in all sizes at the Goodwill store to share with any who needed them.

She knew nature’s roar when the Platte River flooded and the police walked up and down Washington Street shouting through their bull-horns to evacuate as the water overflowed its once placid and feculent home.

There was beauty in all of her city-born images. Not everyone could understand this, but poetry and spirit lived there, too.

Presently Zorya made her home next to houses painted and formed much like one another except for a few twists and slants here and there. She appreciated the open space a few blocks away even though it was lit up by lights from the adjoining elementary school at night and recently glowered upon by the new teacher training building placed on the vista on top of the hill that was barren when they first moved in.

“Alllll right, but you’ll get sick,” her father droned and sighed hoping to guilt her into compliance.

So without arguing and to save time she slipped on her fluffily padded, ankle length winter coat, specifically purchased to remind her of the flowing robes of the Celtic saints.

She needed to work on this image.

Zorya knew she was way off in her perception, but she couldn’t quite put her finger on it yet. It could be her Slavic soul. Her mother once told her that were from gypsy stock in Poland. She needed clarification, some new understanding. And that was what part of her mission on this first day of the Suburban New Year.

Zorya changed her mind about telling her father the exact time of return.

“I’ll be back later,” she replied curtly as she shut the door, not with a slam. The seal wouldn’t allow a slam. But she closed it tightly with a definite, “I’m taking a stance.”

On the bench, Zorya stared at her feet. The snow was packed inside her shoes. She should have worn socks. Her hands were nestled inside her coat pockets, but the hoodie and fluffy coat hoods rested on her back.

She looked up as the horizon sky beckoned turning a magical shade of gold. Usually, this time of year the sunrise brought reds bleeding into dark blues and then fading into purple that melts into a bright Colorado azure. Today there were no clouds to paint.

Today the sky was golden.

As she looked around her, the grasses, now tan and crisp, held tiny cups of snow balanced on top of their heads. The weeds deepened to a courtly gold. The snowfield sent diamond sparks and her breath was smoky rising into the air.

Here Zorya began to feel again.

The cold hurt.

That was okay because she was able to take the other hurts and mix them together, finally able to release them. She took a breath filling her lungs as deeply as she was trained. An actress, if practiced, breathes from the bottom of her lungs giving her voice resonance and strength.

Zorya imagined her weaknesses, guilt trips, disappointments, and pain flowing into the cold that turned water into ice. They mixed together forming a crystal. With a quick puff from one more inhale, she blew the cancer away. She imagined it pushing high into the morning air blazing backlit in the golden rays. Then all at once she stopped her breath and it plummeted to the ground, shattering into millions of icelets scattered over the snowfield ready to melt as the afternoon warmed.

But Zorya didn’t stop there. Releasing the negative was just the start. Now came time for gratitude. She needed to remember the good and give thanks. She remembered and was grateful for wisdom from the priest who recognized the bard in her and gives her room to share. The joy from the songbird who lifts her spirits, a soul sister who outshines the morning rise. The healing hands of the shaman sister whose energy flows through and heals. The smiles and the laughter of her students. The love and tenderness of her husband. The wagging tail of her dog.

The words of the Word and the new vision of Sophia entering her life.

And, of course, the concern and love of her dad.

These and more she released one by one in a chant through the morning air. This time they did not fall and shatter. Each rose higher and higher into the ether until, like the spark of stars bowing to morning glow, flashed and disappeared.

She was ready. Zorya had room once more. And the New Year began.

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Author’s Note:

Sometimes, no, most times, I never know what is going to come out. Instead of a poem, a story on this 9th Day of Christmas. And two posts in one day, my apologies.

Today our writing group was planning on meeting. But for the icy streets and snow, we decided to be safe. We tried Skyping but my old computer and lack of tech skills made us settle on e-mail.

Our prompt was garnered from Bonnie Neubauer’s Story Spinner:

Setting: Inside your head

Starting phrase: The sky turned a magical shade of gold.

Words you must include:  romantic, zipper, flaky and drone

And that’s how my story was spawned. Peace.