Sometimes solace can be found buried

In plastic containers and discarded food 

Wrappings clustered beneath a crumbling

Overpass. Sometimes intimacy can be 

Glimpsed in the eyes of a junkie huddled

On a streetcorner, their sunken face 

Peering from within a mountain of dirty 

Blankets. Comfort can be the distant 

Blare of a siren, fading into early dusk. 


Even the darkest and deadliest streets of 

This city are steeped in memories of my 

Youth. Leaning against the chain-link fence 

Of FAT, watching F-15’s roar to life on the

Tarmac, the fiery red glow cast from their 

Exhaust warming my cheeks. Across the 

Avenue, rough-hewn men sneak into the 

Entrance of City Lights, casting furtive looks

Over their shoulder at the little blonde girl. 


Riding the carousel at Manchester Mall in 

All its lustrous glory, golden lights flashing

Above my head, a myriad of spinning colors 

Enveloping me like a vortex of fantastical

Creatures, waving to my family standing at

The rails after each full orbit was complete. 

I can still taste the grease oozing from the 

Cafeteria fries as I listen to my parents 

Argue over the drone of the mall’s inhabitants.


The harsh rays of sunlight beating down on

Kearney Park still burn the back of my corneas 

As I reminisce Renfaires of the past, furtive 

Kisses stolen beneath the branches of Maple

Trees, lovers now buried in the cobwebs of time,

Running their hands up my flowing skirts, eyes

Twinkling, lips moving soundlessly, drowned by 

The fire breathers performing behind us at the

Center of the mansion’s vast, flowing courtyard.


Rattling in my skull is the hollow echo of a train

Passing by. I remain huddled beneath the dismal

Tracks, clutching a box of Krispy Kreme’s in my 

Lap, lips turning blue from December’s wintry bite.

Notes of dust sift through the hazy pink light

Of sunset, dipping below the San Joaquin River,

A black serpent stretching across the belly of 

River Bottom. I watch nameless possessions drift

By on the current, wondering what history they hold.


My feet still remember the jagged terrain of Fulton 

Street, stepping over broken syringes and discarded

Joints, my blood alive with the electric current of 

Music booming from Art Hop stalls, the air heavy 

With vape smoke and incense. Canvases propped 

Against abandoned theaters, gold, and black paint 

Dripping down, chaos and beauty merged. I would 

Dance beneath domes of neon lights, spinning above

Courthouse Park, alive in a way I never felt before. 


These places have now been reduced to empty husks, 

Stripped of their former glory by the ravages of time, 

The anger of the beaten and broken. Inside me, they 

Still live on, spreading like roots, anchoring me to my

Scarred homeland, remembrances of warmth and 

Innocence. My entire life has been dedicated to 

Escaping this hell, yet I find myself longing for home, 

For the happiness I felt, perched atop downtown’s 

Southwest Building, watching fireworks explode,

Chrysanthemums against a starry backdrop…


Fresno’s Fourth of July.

  • Author: audraburwell (Offline Offline)
  • Published: September 22nd, 2022 16:39
  • Category: Reflection
  • Views: 6

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