by Jeffrey Murrell


What is there in the memory of one's childhood home
Where an old friend's house becomes a student dorm,
And they're all too busy with parties to mow the lawn,
Or be home for supper, or even before dawn?

Chasing wildly down an old familiar street,
A familiar childhood park can be seen.
It's become a vast and lavish, neatly tended garden
Decorated with giant, bronze Roman icons.

And overlooking the place is a schoolmate's house
Up on the hill where it had always been found.
Up the street, the old brick school still looks like a fortress,
Looming over the broad playground to its west.

It's still guarded on all fronts by young punks and bullies,
Ragged little scruffs, now with radio phone-links
Patrolling about on florescent colored skateboards,
Badgering you as you approach a side door!

And once you do penetrate their parameters you find
That it was once a stronghold, once upon a time.
Indeed, it was somekind of ancient fortification
That has outlived its original function.

Inside, you get lost in the numerous corridors,
Long passages running a confused, twisting course
To secret places which had never before existed;
Apartments for new permanent residents.

Their affects and belongings spread about carelessly,
They're provided everything they need.
With concert banners as curtains over the windows
And stuff in the refrigerators green with mold.

Then you find yourself rushing down steps with books in hand,
Hurrying through empty halls to get to class;
It's strange, as there's hardly another student to be seen,
And the teacher behind the podium won't speak!

Then you realize how this time has already passed;
Those dear, lunatic, care-free days went by so fast.
It should break your heart to think what you could do again
If you could return to those times and your old friends!

But now you have new friends, and you all head off downtown
To view the capital of that world's sights and sounds:
A majestic building, at least a mile high in the air;
You go up and then down, frightened to death up there!

The building across the street is now a great glass tower
With a gleaming lobby and high elevators.
You step into one for a journey to new heights
Above the horizon, higher than birds can fly.

It jerks to a stop as something fizzles, bursts into flames
And starts to fall, speeding to your death, so you pray
And wake up in the city's outskirts, alone once again,
The metropolitan skyline a far island.

The city lay far off on the horizon, so you walk back
Along the countless miles of vacant railroad tracks.
Out there, the stores are scarcely spread far and wide apart,
Whereas, in the city, space is measured in yards.

And this day is smolderingly hot and very humid
Which is as usual as you remember it
Being of such a warm, almost tropical-like nature.
And finely you get back to where you were.

You come upon an area of open-air vendors,
A gypsy-market mingle in a town corner,
Leading you through one of the city's many hidden slums;
You're sad to see another friend's house abandoned.

Depressed to find the town vacant of all acquaintances,
You walk for a long while, alone, meditative,
Until you've reached one of the finely groomed neighborhoods
Where the wealthy hide in estates back in the woods.

And here's where you find an elegant club-house swimming pool
Surrounded by tall oaks and marble statues;
There are a few people leaving as the evening melts,
So you can enjoy it a while all to yourself.

You've put on a bathing suit, but as you start to dive in,
The water has vanished, leaving a green scum ring,
And the marble benches and statues are crumbling with age,
Yellowing and cracked, as if not cared for these days.

The people have also vanished--is it somekind of trick?
You're just hallucinating! Bewildered, you sit
On one of the benches to ponder, again alone,
On what there is about one's childhood home.