Sandy McIntosh

Our 'Hood
after “Our Village” by Thomas Hood (1799-1845)
(“There were scarcely any events in the life of Thomas Hood.”
–William Michael Rossetti: Introduction to the Collected Works of Thomas Hood.)

You find us through a grove of oaks, where slaves were hanged not long ago, and by a stand of willows, under which on summer days, young men and women pose for pornographic videos.

And beyond that is a parking lot so vast, cars are parked and never found.

There’s our lake wherein lie drowned the priest and three altar boys, lighted candles by their coffins, haloed faces rippling the swell.

We have eighteen funeral homes in fervid competition. “When may we expect you, Sir? Madam?” is the universal, nervous greeting.

Neighbors steal from neighbors. They exchange possessions, dress and thought. And, so, over the years, have transformed themselves into the people from whom they stole.

Here’s the grown-up boy who everyday brings home tricycles, playpens, computers, shopping carts from the supermarket—any old set of discarded things. Each night his father quietly hauls that day’s collection to the curb.

Here’s our prostitute. The taxi driver used to drive her around. She’d tip him $2.00. Now she’s retired, set up in a house down the block. “Afternoon, Sonya!” he call as she walks past. She squints, bends her head to forty-five degrees. “Two dollars!” she calls back, recognizing him from the horizontal.

Our neighbor’s house caught fire—something about a cigarette tossed into lighter fluid just to see what would happen. The Fire Department was ready with the hoses, but gaped in silence at the fire, then the captain saying: “It’s good we wait to see what happens next.”

On Mondays we watch the Perp Walk. Today it’s the mayor shackled to the Police Chief. “Oh Jeremiad!” laments loudly the local crank. “Why did we take all those hallucinogens in the ‘60s?”

Our hospital sells body parts. Free enterprise has been brisk. Even living patients are missing organs and appendages. “I know I had it when I came in,” each thinks.

Our pastor prays in the churchyard: "Oh Lord, who are we kidding? Grant us that we never die, like this poor idiot. What is it you need, oh Lord, to make this work? Storm shutters, a new set of tires? They're yours. Amen."

We remember our casualty from the World Trade Center, his last message on his wife’s answering machine: “I’m leaving now. Keep that damn dog out of my tomato plants!”

Here’s our athletic field whereupon young boys and girls play a game without ball or puck. The rules say players must bash each other with iron mallets. We are the tri-county champions!

The police tell us if there weren't so many wires coming into our houses our murder rate would triple.

When our postal carrier rings our doorbell we hide under the bed. They all carry guns and they all know how to use them.

Here’s the boy who one day took an electric drill to his brother’s head. Caught in the act he swore: “I am an American. I do not torture.”

Here’s our local newspaper. Today’s headline: Cannibals Running Day Care Center! Seventh Banner Year!

Fifteen hit-and-runs last week, twenty-seven so far this week. You get used to the bodies lying there; just step around them.

Now there is only one place I have not told you about in our village, and it is my house. And what goes on in there is none of your goddamned business.

And each night in the high school parking lot, the primal roar and crash of the SUVs as they collide, fall back and collide again under the oceanic tugging of the moon.

Sandy McIntosh's collections of poetry include Forty-Nine Guaranteed Ways To Escape Death, (September 2007), The After-Death History of My Mother, Between Earth and Sky (Marsh Hawk Press), Endless Staircase (Street Press), Earth Works (Long Island University), Which Way to the Egress? (Garfield Publishers), and two chapbooks: Obsessional (Tamafyhr Mountain Poetry) and Monsters of the Antipodes (Survivors Manual Books). His prose includes Firing Back, with Jodie-Beth Galos (Wiley), From A Chinese Kitchen (American Cooking Guild), and The Poets In the Poets-In-The-Schools (Minnesota Center for Social Research, University of Minnesota. His poetry and essays have been published in The New York Times, Newsday, The Nation, the Wall Street Journal, American Book Review, and elsewhere. His original poetry in a film script won the Silver Medal in the Film Festival of the Americas. He has been Managing Editor of Confrontation magazine published by Long Island University, and is Managing Editor of Marsh Hawk Press.

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