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Spent My Youth In An Alley
TJM (January 1948 / San Francisco, CA)

Spent My Youth In An Alley

Poem By Tom J. Mariani

Went back this weekend out of town
For a family birthday party
To where I spent
Some of my youth

Backing my sister in-law's car
Out of her garage
Into the alley behind her house
Brought back some memories

Drove slowly as I bumped along
Over old potholes
Who's supposed to fill them now
Heavy brush and blackberries on both sides

Ahead of me was a young boy on his bike
He had a bouncing empty wagon forced to follow
Tied with a frayed piece of scrap rope
To the seat post of the bike

Another boy was following
As fast as he could on foot
This was only a couple of blocks
From the alley where I used to play

Alleys are great
Protected from traffic and parent's eyes
Old man Mitchell's dogs would warn us
If anyone was coming

Back then my alley
Had fresh oil and gravel
If the city truck didn't come in time
My grandfather kept the potholes filled

Brought the fill home from work
In the bed of his pickup
Sometimes I'd get to help him shovel
I asked him why he did it

'I'm not paying to get
Your grandmother's car realigned again
How in the hell
Does she find every new pothole? '

Once we were done
I'd get to wash his truck
Sit behind the steering wheel
And pretend

Nothing disappointing when the alley was young
Fresh oil and gravel
All the wild blackberries you could eat
What more could you want

When I took my sister in-law's car back
The boys were gone
Without them playing in the alley
It's just a dusty shadow-ridden place

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Comments (2)

Hi Tom, You're right. There is the flavor of my 'Lost' poem here. But take a look at my 57th and Kenwood - the two go together.
The boys were gone Without them in the alley It's a dusty shadow ridden place masterpiece of undying nostalgia


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