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With Benjamin in Greensboro, Alabama

                                    Jeff Newberry

Sunday afternoon:  an empty town square,
closed shops. Boarded windows. Half a failed
town, half a place no one ever leaves.

Your grandfather’s shadow darkened
fence slats in ’59, a boy on bicycle,
baseball cards in spokes. Hazed memories

(not mine): your grandfather in a coonskin
cap, a quarter for the picture show,
a black & white world of church & state,

friend & foe, joy, woe, all poles
waving flags of freedom, flags of victory.
You ask me Where is everyone?

I say It’s Sunday. They’re all home,
sleeping off a meal. Watching football.

I’m hunting a park, a swing, spindled

monkey bars for you to hang from, climb,
some memory we might make for you
or me, some true story I can one day retell.

No parks here. This place outlives children.
Every street bleeds into one: hedged,
empty windows, silent porches. Carter-era

cars bought when Reagan took office.
We pass through town again, drive over
our own shadow as dusk mutes the day.

Empty shop windows reflect our passing.
When night comes, we’ll be gone, too.
I want to tell you more, but I’ve no claim

to this town. We’re all strangers here.

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