via Chapter Sixteen

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State Street: Sunday July 1, 2018

There are so many broken souls moving along State Street on this steamy Sabbath Day
Some swing bony arms at ghosts – others hold fast searching for their own Great Whites
Their skin is as smooth as the peanut shells under the seats at the ballpark on Shields
The heat suffocates the reasonable and the cogent rushing from store to store for relief
The broken souls – their pock-marked skin rubbed bare at the elbows – seem impervious
No one noticed them when they were whole – no one notices them now – not today

The Dream Factory Out on Route 158

They cleaned each blackboard in the dream factory out on Route 158
Before they began to rip down the walls that protected the dreamers
The wrecking ball released generations of struggles and triumphs
Into the cold clear Kenosha air across the Italian club on Route 158

There aren’t many children around here any more
There aren’t many children – they followed the money

There was still so much more to say but there is no place to say it
So many words and numbers and ideas and thoughts to be given breath
Now laughter and tears echo through the crumbling cement and rusted rebar

The dream factory sighs cement dust relief
Every time the wrecking ball slams into its vulnerable side

No one was here to witness the end of the dream factory
No one was here to witness the end of where it all began
For decades of curious Wisconsin children

At least someone took the time to clean the blackboards

The Bishop of State Street

The Bishop of State Street has seen more things than you and me
His hard dark eyes are barely contained in their bony sockets
Beads of sweat the size of a baby’s fist get caught in the folds of his nose
And in the deep dark dimples that crease the sides of his face
He keeps his head on a swivel because he doesn’t like surprises

The State Street crowd is changing too quickly and the old ghosts are gone
Younger – harder – faster people push by him but they don’t see him anymore
The rhythm of the change and the rhythm of the night remind him of the trains
The rhythms remind him of the trains that brought him up here for a better life
The rhythms remind him of beat of his mother’s heart when she held him home safe

The Ancient Ghost of Regret

Decades gone by like a heavy wind – we shared our lives – not always of our choosing
We traded kind words once – sometimes heavy punches – sometimes just our anger
We never stopped to explain or apologize – rarely showing gratitude – we just were
Consumed by perceptions of our own mortality and legacy we eventually drifted apart

There was one day – lost in the ether of the youth – when I killed what we loved
The ancient ghost I made that day haunts me – after all these years it still hovers over me
I had your trust and I betrayed it mercilessly until you cried – then I laughed at you
The ancient ghost of regret haunts me for not treating you better when I had the chance

More than a lifetime has transpired since that day when I made you so miserable
We have forgiven each other – unspoken apologies for pain we inflicted on each other
We have soared and we have floundered – sometimes together – sometimes alone
Still I can’t keep the ancient ghost of regret from knocking on my kitchen door at night