2010s · Poetry · The Unnamed Algorithm

Child of the Alleyway

We were five, sometimes more,
in a one-bedroom duplex
with its back turned away
from the street. We made
it work, split the space

with my brother in the laundry,
and a cloth foldout couch.
We had two dogs and two cats
so the house was never empty.
I knew well the back ends

of other people’s houses,
apartments and wood fences,
gardens and add-on porches.
Telephone poles like redwoods
stood in a forest of garage doors

and parking spaces, while
sunlight and shadows played
hide-and-seek across the sky.
On holidays like Thanksgiving,
food drive cans of green beans,

cranberries and yellow corn,
and boxes of instant mashed potatoes
landed on our back-front porch,
three brown steps, peeling paint
peeling wood from white washed walls.

We painted the kitchen red
with forest green trim, so
it always felt like Christmas
underneath the long wires
across much taller buildings.

Originally appeared in Ishaan Literary Review.

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