Up on Blocks

Gerald Stern

BPR 45 | 2018

This family lives in an old Chevy
up on blocks and as often as not
eats wrinkled apples for breakfast
and once a week they get free cheese
from the garage behind St. John’s
up the alley past the shoemaker
on the way to the Methodist Church
where they get lunches once a week
and all this just for you (for me?)
the one in a speckled vest
and flannel shirt with the buttons missing
the pain-in-the-ass that walks down the rutted green alley and
looks at garbage—for evidence—
and thinks he’s some kind of Micah or Isaiah,
lifting the lids as if he were an inspector.
They’re in an old Fairlane up on blocks
they’re in a VW bus or most of all
an ancient P.O. truck the steering English
they have a small heated stove the three children
sleep in the back, they grumble and sigh and push
getting ready for school, their books are mixed up
their da-da is making coffee, he’s stolen two donuts
from the seven-eleven he doesn’t vote he gets
his electricity from a small telephone pole
his underwear is dirty, he doesn’t wear socks
his shoes are rotten. He’s up on blocks.