I saw the greatest hearts of my neighborhood destroyed by poverty, starving hysterical broke,
dragging themselves through snowbanks at dawn looking for a permanent fix,
angelheaded church boys lost to the ancient burning scriptures and the priest’s deceit
in bald tattered jeans with hollow-eyed faces and wind-burned lips, dissolving blunts in unheated basements beneath rotted-wood tenements,
weed magic tricks in the three-decker valleys of mediocrity and cold,
who passed through school lonely and unloved,
who went away hungry and came home deaf,
who sat at the doors of disinterested academies with cotton-cobweb mouths,
Who walk the streets with baby strollers, too young for wrinkles.
Who fill out forms with benumbed hands and receive blank stares, but keep stepping.
Who seek Providence but end up somewhere East of it, kicked and rattled in soapy iron Buckets, beaten with hate-hardened clubs until they can take it no more and drive straight, straight at them with rage and terror.
Who are dragged away in handcuffs, Assault on an Officer, leaving behind fuzzy-eyed, Newport-smoking, head-shaking friends saying “Dju see dat shit?”
Whose cradle-given mind for hard work, fairness, Deus Patria e Familia grinds still, somewhere, beneath the frozen denim wind cut like diamond, hardened beautiful beating hearts behind fabric and ice, behind diamond-plate steel, behind the times.
Who went to war and came back paranoid, scared, scarred, impotent and uncertain, dreams deferred to a more convenient time, the end of history on the verge of rolling them and smoking them like a Dutch Master, to a landscape as unwanted as them, fit only for the wrecking ball or the arsonist’s match, fit for no hipster's pity parade, unfit for anything but rebirth.
Christian Aguiar was born in Worcester, Massachusetts, but currently lives in the mountainous north of South Korea, where he teaches English, writes, and stumbles along rocky river beds. He has been previously published in Pif Magazine and Boston Literary Magazine, and has work forthcoming in Alimentum.