Benny on The Avenue


This sidewalk is a saxophone,

blowing its curves and broken rises

under Spanish Moss and street lamps.

The songs it plays are natural and

a part of life. I could close my

eyes and follow the sound, never

missing a step, never falling because

the songs are a part of me, and my

bones lay here under this cement,

black dirt, and wet grass enterwined

with the mournful melodies of my

ancestors who speak to me through

these sidewalks, these arteries keeping the

life of the city flowing and connected.


The tenor-drawn smells of ancient

kitchens float on the breeze that

blows in from the river,

driven with intensity upstream from

the Gulf and its crab-boil-colored

water, sweating in the intense

heat of late August. I cling with

bare hands and toes to this sidewalk,

my only guarantee of sanity in a

storm-torn world. But the sandy

surface betrays me and I fall

against my will into the abyss

of self-judgment and condemnation for

all that I'm not.


Rodney Owen