Courtney J. Campbell

doubting sidewalks


i’m familiar with the violence of
sidewalks. it spirals within them.
inherent. aren’t you afraid to
walk home? i am. i am afraid.
everyone’s afraid. i’m afraid.
i’m afraid. i’m afraid.
i walk home every night
hoping this time he didn’t come.
i walk home every night
knowing it’s got to catch up with me


and while she talked
i saw breads multiply
around her head
and i thought of the violence
of sidewalks.


and i’m used to these violent sidewalks –
last week i walked back home and
i usually don’t drink so much but
he kept talking about darwin and
population control and homo sapiens
and i have a rule to drink faster every
time i hear survival of the fittest and
the sidewalk did that thing again
and i scraped my hands
and that was my newest pair of jeans
and i didn’t even see it coming.


she said she didn’t see it coming –
they just pulled up and then
they were out of the car
and then there were
these loud noises and
her husband was gurgling and
she looked up into the eyes of
her student.


i just got back up off the sidewalk
stepped into the store and the chocolate bars
wouldn’t shut the fuck up. come here, bitch,
buy me. what you can’t afford me?
buy me. i’ll make you someone.
buy me. i’ll make you happy.
buy me. pretend it’s ok.
buy me and the sidewalk will stop following
you all the way home everyday.


she didn’t say anything. fernando didn’t
either and then they jumped in the car
and took off and it was over and when
the ambulance took away her husband’s
shell and when the police came to write it
all down she said it was a few kids and she
didn’t get a good look at them and
she had never seen them before
and they ran off in that direction
and she couldn’t even describe them
and excuse me i need to get to the hospital.


tonight i pounded on the side-
walk and said listen to me
it said nothing. i thought this
time i was safe. i stood outside the
gate. i opened the mailbox.
there it was. the credit card bill.
i knew it would catch me


don’t you want justice for your
husband? i asked her.

justice? she said.
justice? and who will seek
justice for fernando?


with her bread and a little bit of
beer i could face the sidewalk
again. i could walk on and
take the advice of chocolate bars.
i could go home on my own feet
and pray. so i say to her i want to
believe you i really do and
if you can divide this sidewalk
so i can walk through or even
turn it into bread i will.

One Response

  1. I had my doubts about the title and its idea and then the poem totally worked for me, antiphonically, in sections. I love the use of the refrain and the turnaround. Very nice.

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