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Monday, April 25, 2011

NONE OF MY BUSINESS- notes from Commerce Street


The names of the streets seem so ironic now-

Commerce, Laurel, Pearl and Broad Streets.

Plastic soda bottles closed the Glass Factories.

No smell of tomatoes cooking into ketchup,

no smell of dye boiling at the fabric company.

Workers and their families, are all long gone too.

It’s none of my business, but it was my hometown.


Department Stores, Woolworth’s, Beacon Auto,

The Enterprise Men’s Store, Morton’s Jewelers,

Riley’s Sporting Goods, Smashey’s Shoe Store,

even the Farmers and Merchants Bank is missing.

Tourism and Victorian architecture were suppose

to boost the economy and stop the city’s decline.

It’s none of my business, but it was my hometown.


When tourism failed, a bid for a new State prison

made the folks say, some will build it, some will

work as guards in it, many will end up living in it.

Victorian homes got divided and rented to multiple

families, you can tell by the dozen mailboxes on the

front porches put up by some landlord’s handyman.

It’s none of my business, but it was my hometown.


Stores are open-signs for calling cards, Ranchero music,

Santeria candles, QuinceaƱera party supplies, taco stands,

whatever else new citizens need to feel at home, at ease.

Men work all day in the fields of thriving nurseries while

young pregnant wives walk the streets with children in tow,

and older children wear maroon and khaki school uniforms.

It’s none of my business, but it was my hometown.


In the last few moments of my visit, I see Big John’s Pizza,

The Towne Tavern, and Terrigno’s Bakery-all still here.

And when I step into Weber’s Candy Store I go back in time

to the heyday of a Glass Town, when the downtown was

a showplace of commerce, industry, and community pride.

It’s all the same, same shelves, same candy, same signs.

It’s none of my business, but it was my hometown.


Maybe I’m exaggerating, but every building looks like

it needs a couple of coats of paint, a new roof, and

new windows. I start to wonder how it all got this way.

I hold back my tears when I see my grandparent’s home

with its faded, dented aluminum siding, dirty windows

and the back door swinging and slamming in the breeze.

It’s none of my business, but it was my hometown.

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