A Very Jersey HalloweenBy Patrick Rosal
May 15, 2010
On October 31, 1984, I hopped into a Datsun
with three other boys and cruised
the neighborhood next to the Country Club
just to see what the rich kids dressed like on Halloween.
No one believed I’d jump out the car window
and press the point of a dull, four-inch blade
against that chubby kid’s belly and tell him
Hand over the bag. I was a good Catholic boy;
I wanted to convert the disbelievers. So my threat to cut
that kid down was quick: I flashed a five-dollar balisong
and my best altar-boy smile. I don’t care
what you say. New Jersey is beautiful at dusk. In winter
I love the insinuation of its cities through snow,
as if the white contours can’t hold all our dangers down;
the stiff chimneys sear into the sky a hole the size
of your hand, the portal, perhaps, through which heaven
snatches up small children or sends down vivid dreams
of butterfly knives and rich boys swinging bags
full of sweets. Come on. People go missing
all the time. No one cries for them. Even if I give you
the neighborhood back, the country club, the rich fat kid
dressed like C3PO. Listen: I’ll give you the whole bloody
New Jersey sky, that night, starless, magnificent. It don’t matter,
because somewhere in the world I still brandish a knife,
though I go by another name, and with three of my friends
I’ve disappeared into the smoke of a banged up
Japanese import. I keep thinking if I just tell the story
again out loud, I could bring us all back to make things right,
but there’s no trace, no knife, no stick-up kid or three boys
shamed into silence. I’m telling you, I hopped
into the Datsun and threw the bag of candy in the backseat
giggling. My friends said nothing. We were afraid of nothing —
for we were reared by a generation that could make
whole nations simply vanish. And like any good crew,
we kept waiting for an angel to come down through
a hole in heaven the size of a hand made in god’s forsaken
image and shackle us to each other for good. It’s no use.
You can retrace every inch of all the places I’ve ever been.
Trust me. I’ve looked. We’re nowhere to be found.
Patrick, this made me cry. Specifics are a stupid redundancy. This poem is brilliant. I’m a Jersey girl born-and-raised. Left Jersey City five years ago and haven’t returned. Until I read this.
34 years 11th grade history teacher, inner city, Miami.. The callousness, volatility,human disregard, consequence immune(so they think), and putting status in the very worst society offers is embraced by too large a slice of the pie chart of this generation, esp. minorities. Yeah, and often just over a bag of candy. And you better not accidentally step in my sneakers, in the densely overcrowded school hallway. That’s an intolerable provocation. Sadly, the good kids must display as much uncharacteristic viciousness to survive.
Man. I read this, then saw the track, then listened, and thought ‘What? Where is this cheery guitar coming from? This can’t be right. Someone, somewhere, has made a mistake.’
But no. Everything was right on the mark. This worked perfectly for me, in content and creation.
TNB has been single-handedly responsible for getting me back into poetry, spoken word, and performance.
Welcome aboard, Patrick!
Your shit is so fly. So constantly.