Homeless by William Swarts


by William Swarts

Not there anymore…

It’s as if I never was,
never grew up here,
never . . .

. . . pedaled my wide-wheeled Schwinn—“Look, Ma, no hands”—

up and down Pheasant Lane, playing card taped to
the front wheel fork to snap, snap, snap on spinning spokes
like a stick dragged along a white picket fence;

. . . drove our ’55 yellow-and-white Ford Fairlane up and down

our driveway to hear the white walls tires peel off with a squeal;

. . . pitched a backyard tent to house the Pirate Club where

members secretly met ‘round the sacred candle stub;

. . . nailed rungs to a maple tree trunk, to climb to my tree house

to read the latest Hardy Boys adventure;

. . . laid atop a willing neighbor girl under our front yard oak

on a warm summer night—she bruised her back
on the acorn littered lawn;

. . . did Saturday allowance chores: swept cellar and garage,

shined shoes, mowed our grassy half-acre;

. . . read Perry Mason and Agatha Christie with a flashlight

under the covers, listening, volume turned way down
to Symphony Sid play jazz or Wolfman Jack DJ
rock-‘n-roll on WOR-AM, 710 on your radio dial.

. . . lived a quotidian life—ate and drank, went to the john, smoked

forbidden cigarettes, did my homework, watched TV, slept
and dreamt and dreamed.

None of it there.

And property gone too.
Not the land. That had doubled.
The new householder erased
the survey line dividing our lot
from our old neighbor’s land.

His brick manse’s footprint
stepped on the toes of two
shingle-sided colonials.

I left home for a life: college and grad school,
marriage and remarriage, jobs in the city and overseas,
kids and grandkids. You know, all that stuff.

Now I’m driving by for memories,
but my home and history have forgotten me.


William Swarts is the author of Harmonies Unheard, Strickland Plains and Other Poems, and Treehouse of the Mind. His poetry has been published in many recognized literary journals. He received his B.A. in English Literature from Brown University, his J.D. from University of Pennsylvania, and practiced law in New York City and Paris. He studied with Bolligen Prize-winner David Ignatow at the 92nd Street YM-YWHA Poetry Center. He lives in western North Carolina.

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