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Thursday, June 16, 2016

My Street, Lake Street, City of Water (Reading for Poets n' Pints)

My Street

Lake Street is enchanted, haunted
I have almost always lived near it,
Just a few blocks away, sometimes
Right on top of it, the number 21
bus crossing the city from East to West
There were years of my life that I took
That ride nearly every day; took it
To Church, to the Way Place, to college
To work, from Calhoun to the Mississippi
Lake Street is the central axis of the city

My mom used to tell me to “stay off Lake”
If I was walking somewhere, especially at night
I did not listen, I liked the foot traffic, I was street
I liked the people, the hustlers, girls and bars
There were a dozen reasons to cross Lake Street any day

At age ten I started going there to play D&D 
“The Little Tin Soldier,” a game store on Bryant
Next door to Barbi’s, the massage parlor,
Across from Smokey’s, the pool hall down the block
From the arcade at the bowling alley, down the street
A few blocks from the book stores, with the peep shows
Twenty-five cent movies, the big theatre on Lyndale
That was for Adults Only, like the one on Bloomington
The Avalon, now home to puppet theatres, a children’s place
The Heart of the Beast

My parents would tell me that Lake Street was different
In their day, it was a place for a family drive, filled
With car dealerships and drive in restaurants
At the West end Channel 11 had their studios
Where Casey Jones’ and his side kick Roundhouse
Filmed their T.V. show, out back, on the tracks
On the East end was the bridge to St. Paul
The dirty book stores are gone, and the brothels
They are hidden, but the ghosts of those times linger
There are street walkers on parade in front of the
Hal-al markets, the Super Mercados, the Vietnamese Delis
In store fronts up and down the strip
The culture of each generation gives way
Diffuses, differentiates, syncretizes with the times

Lake Street remains

I read this Poem from my Collection, at the June gathering of Poets n’ Pints, June 15th, 2016