Sonnet of a City Once Known

Have you not seen the city I once knew
buried beneath years of silent defect,
impatient rust and angry shades of blue?
History’s hidden beneath its neglect.

The endless sewer to sewer stickball games,
crumbling cement, steps worn smooth as slate,
summer Tuesdays, boardwalk firework flames,
my father coming home (always too late).

Soft blacktop leaps to meet a kid’s sneaker
rounding first, but dreaming of home at last.
Old tar just hardens, the streets grow bleaker
and bright futures are leveled by the past.

On fall days as shedding trees turn to stone,
my shadows visit this city once known.

—Reed F. Coleman

Published in Long Island Quarterly 1996 and Poetry of Murder 2005. All rights reserved.



I was seventeen
before I knew
my eyes were blue
that girls liked them
that girls liked my eyes
that they were blue.
Until then
I was too busy
throwing stones
throwing stones at the mirror
to see
that you could see them too.
Before then
I just assumed
they were brown
or I just didn’t think
about my eyes.
What was there to like,
until I was seventeen?

—Reed F. Coleman

Published in Proteus 1994 and Poetry of Murder 2005. All rights reserved.