A Space Defined by Absence

Walking through the North End is like
                    walking through Dante’s Inferno
                    without Virgil to take your hand,

a space defined by absence where
                    adolescents bare arms parents
                    bruise with kisses of cigarettes,

ashen ammunition for hits
                    no kids should equate with love, filth
                    embraced in Squares doves circle, air

worsened by conditions below,
                    where only those souls go who know
                    that climbing above is a goal

without a means of growth, no hope
                    for we who enter here, “going
                    forth by day” reserved for poems

and trails pharaohs blazed, whose books died
                    before the sky closed its eye to
                    them, these inhabitants whose own

government for so long has been
                    blind to opening borders minds
                    entomb them within, blackening

thoughts amid assaults of asphalt
                    choking arteries Charles Morris
                    himself had never envisioned

being worn-out so poorly, not
                    only poverty of riches,
                    but of spirit, transforming his

original survey of this
                    city to its whisper-ravaged
                    deformity, rumour’s swift wings,

and not reality, what have
                    sentenced Halifax’s zenith
                    to its lowest extremity,

a nadir no mayor’s promise
                    of revival history’s lips
                    can attest as having been met,

and so, here where heaven never
                    treads, my heart moves instead, red ink
                    on my pen as my head drips thoughts

too long unuttered, sitting on
                    lips too used to comfort, a song’s
                    words some unseen force wants published,

and so here, where wealth tarnishes,
                    I stand not before, but among,
                    children indifference fathered,

sons society would rather
                    silence than see rewarded with
                    the same opportunity we,

pale with privilege, profligate,
                    spendthrifts of our own “genius”
                    when it comes to humanity,

unaccustomed (or unwilling?)
                    to reparation, inclusion
                    a sentiment no one’s showing

in a war flushing to gutters
                    troubles our world blushes at with
                    wonder, quaint blunders warranting

a humbling of such haughtiness
                    in the face of injustice, yet
                    until we fix the leak, what keeps

afloat and in chains the naïve
                    over those they enslave, is that
                    one vein to which we are all linked,

that space where love parks until knifed,
                    an emptying of empathy
                    bleeding when hearts drain what divides.