The Rip Post                                                                                              


DICKENS STREET
(revised 1997)


Dickens Street is a curious place
that all seem meant to leave
Where folks mouth mild pleasantries
whether happy or bereaved
Where something's bound to happen
but somehow never does
Where ambivalence is an answer
and a why is just because


The people come to Dickens Street
when there's nowhere else to be
They build their homes on checks and schemes
and all-night cable TV
They're not sure just why they've come,
not sure how long they'll stay
That's the way it is on Dickens Street
An act without a play

Vanessa sighs and shuts the door
she spends here nights alone
Her cat is sleeping at her side
her friends are on the phone

Edith lives for a baseball game
and endless cigarettes
At nine she has a sip of wine
and frozen crepe souzette

Josie came from a Polish town
she thinks she's on the moon
She yells all day as children play
and hums a slavic tune. . .

In summertime on Dickens Street
Magnolia blossoms bloom
Squirrels walk tightrope telephone lines
The air fills with perfume
Cars go back and forth forever
The sun goes round and round
Old men in wheelchairs roll to church
to pray they're heavenly bound

And Dickens Street is mockingbirds
and gardeners' machines
Car alarms and laughing crows
mysterious midnight screams
It's half exile and not quite home
with rent signs all around
that come and go like toadstools
or the ads in lost and found. . .

Hussein paints pyramids on his wall
to remind himself of home
He's got an empty hashish pipe
and an old Egyptian tome

Old Joe sees only bygone days
his eyes are cloudy blue
not like they were so long ago
when life was young and true

Sheau-Ping has dreams of China rain
and winter hero-flowers
Her husband wakes her tenderly
to announce a summer shower. . .

On Dickens Street you watch the days
slip by like clouds on high
Gathering, one-by-one, till
there's hardly any sky
Where the mornings crowd together
and the evenings have no name
Where everything's always different
and always just the same


Promises die on Dickens Street,
and lives forever altered
by slight events and best intents
and love that never falters
There's fate behind the soft facades
and pastel window shades
It hides inside the mailman's pouch,
and passing car parade

I spent my time on this strange lane
twenty years, no less
Escaped to tell a murky tale of
chasing happiness
I never wanted to live there,
Couldn't bring myself to leave
Dickens Street held on to me
like death does the aggrieved

In the end I had no choice in it
just ran out of rent
You might say it was a tie between
a sin and a repent
I quietly fled, with a piece of heart
and buck or two intact
To spend my days in a kinder place
and never to look back

Yet places get inside of you
they're homes that make a home
in memory and heart and blood
unwritten song and poem
You can leave behind a life or two
in towns and other lands
But a part of a place will always stay
wherever you may stand

And in your dreams, when time and space
are left outside the door
You might recall the years you spent
in a home that is no more
To make so sweet a thing too sad
to think of while awake
And finish a life you left behind that
nothing can remake


---Charles Bogle

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