Ode to the Eastside


My kids ride their bikes in the road. When the cars approach, they slow down, veer off to one side, then wave. It doesn’t matter that their bass speakers are thumping and the muffler is dragging.

A gang of adolescents were walking down the center of the road with bottle rockets, fire crackers, cursing profanity, reckless. I see trouble coming so I meet them before they pass my house. I approach and ask that they politely refrain from such stuff as they pass my house. My small children are playing in the front yard. They respectfully oblige.

Midnight: an unrecognized car has pulled into my driveway thumping rap music. It’s rattling the windows of my sleeping childrens’ bedroom. As I walk out to the car, I smell the sweet smell of marijuana. I say, You can park here on two conditions:

1). you turn the music down and
2). you pass that joint to me.

Moments later, I’m high and listening to the quiet.

I live in one of Kalamazoo’s lowest socio-economic neighborhoods. Not enough is ugly. Black is the color. Some folks are forgotten in this neighborhood, but I have yet to see a child unhappily riding bikes in the road.