Submitted by Amy Soricelli
When Charlie got stabbed it was steamy August
at the shadowy five o’clock time.
People were just getting home from work or where ever
they spent their day rolled up or dragged somewhere.
The Good Humor truck was parked on the lopsided street,
on that unfinished tar road by P.S.109.
The last few notes from the ice-cream jingle hung in the air
and when they lined up for their rocket pops and chocolate bars,
no one saw the beef Charlie started up with that kid from the projects.
No one spotted their uneven shakes and starts in the hot summer heat;
those slippery shadows; those south Bronx foreign blinks of the eye.
They carried black holes of hate in their mouths,
fire words under their tongues.
From the corner I watched that kid with no shirt
push Charlie hard with both open hands.
Charlie a steel drum, didn’t move.
His black converse high tops fixed into the ground,
his anger, horns against the slick shine of his head.
The pool of black blood formed on the sidewalk as Charlie lay there
with his hand across his heart; a half-assed pledge of allegiance.
Sticky black, I watched as the blood became other colors
sliding into the cracks on the sidewalk.
I watched as his words began bleeding into the gum wrappers,
and tiny pieces of cigarettes and dead grass.
The blood was black.
When I went upstairs for dinner my sneakers were
sticky from where I watched until the black and white cars came.
They covered Charlie with a sheet but his sister
saw him anyway
I asked my mother why Charlie’s blood was black,
When would it go away.
“No more Charlie talk” she said when she tucked me in.
She was crying, though, I saw it.
I wondered if she knew him too.
About the Poet
Amy Soricelli has been in the field of career education and staffing for over 30 years. A lifelong Bronx resident, she has been published in Grub Street, Camelsaloon, Versewrights, The Starving Artist, Picayune Press, Deadsnakes, Corvus review, Deadbeats, Cantos, Poetrybay, The Blue Hour Magazine, Empty Mirror, Turbulence magazine, Bloodsugar Poetry, Little Rose magazine, The Caper Journal, CrossBronx, Long Island Quarterly, Blind Vigil Review, Isacoustic, Poetry Pacific, Underfoot, as well as several anthologies. Nominated for Sundress Publications “Best of the Net” award, and recipient of Grace A. Croff Memorial Award for Poetry, Herbert H. Lehman College, 1975.
Painting: Early Sunday Morning – Edward Hopper
A vwery moving poem.
I could picture this happening–the tragedy and horror alongside the every day, and the child wondering why the blood looks black.
A powerful message… very thought provoking.
This is so frank and true to life in cities everywhere. Having lived in NYC my last 2 years of high school and 4 years of college, I was not surprised the read you were a lifelong resident of the Bronx. And I say that in a good way. Very well done.