When I was a boy -- I too can remember --
The world was a rather simple place,
The clear windy nights of November
Smacking exposed hands and cold face
Where wall met solid wall outside.
We played there and never gave a thought
Of what we could and couldn't abide,
Nor even knowing what we fought.

It seemed to be much colder then.
Perhaps dark building against clear
Sky at five o'clock, and I a fat boy,
Slow and bewildered, plunged in chaotic
Random, trying to find a place
Among the others, doubly outside.

I was a boy then and never knew
Many years later I would recall
A newspaper the wind blew
Down the street, along a wall,
Before another gust came
And released its flapping flatness and sent
It on, I sometimes wondered what became
Of this or that one, and where it went.

Those buildings didn't lean into one
Another then. Each stood, if not proud
Then respectable. Things were done.
They were painted, patched and allowed
Certain judicious repairs. We simply grew
And no one paid much attention to us,
And whether we fought or fled no one
Interfered. In our own little chaos
We learned what to share and whom to shun.

Really there was nothing in the street
Except that. I even rebuke the memory
That evoked this dry memory of defeat
With instant pleasure. I should know, see
Much more than this: an absent father
And working mother, and the older boys
After me with a rage they never bothered
To explain. We were their only toys.