He said
he came home from work
on June 14th
around five in the morning
after driving his taxi
for twelve straight hours
with his money in a roll
in his right pants pocket
and pushed the door open
because the lock was broken
to the red brick building
on Lennox Ave. and 134th Street
where he shared an apartment
with four other men
from Ethiopia his country.

She said
it was so hot
she couldn’t sleep
so at four in the morning
she went downstairs
with a twenty in her pocket
that her boyfriend gave her
and she met a girlfriend
on the stoop of her building
and they got to talking
'til almost five
when the girlfriend asked her
to walk to a building
on 134th Street
to buy some drugs.

He said
there was a big black woman
in the dimly lit hallway
wearing tight black shorts
and a purple shirt
who said she needed money
for her two small children
because one was sick
and the other was hungry.

So he took some money
from his right pants pocket
peeling off three ones
to offer to the woman
but when she saw the roll
she grabbed the gold chain
he wore under his T-shirt
and put a knife to his neck.

She said
at 134th Street
she gave her friend
five plus dollars
to get some drugs
in a nearby building
and she went to the corner
to the all-night deli
to buy an alcoholic beverage
a pack of Winstons
a cherry Chapstick
and a bag of chips.
She sat on the stoop
of the red brick building
since it was the cleanest
and she drank the beer
until a man pulled up
in a yellow taxi
and they talked a bit
before he asked her
to come inside

but in the ground floor lobby
he grabbed her shoulders
shoved her in a corner
and tried to rape her.
She screamed “Get off me”

and when he wouldn’t
she took the boxcutter
that she always kept
in her left pants pocket
on her plastic keyring
and sliced the small man
from his ear to his chin.

He said
when he saw the blood
he screamed for his friends
who dragged the woman
onto the sidewalk
as the black police car
with the twirling red light
pulled up to the curb.

She said
the man was scared
the neighbors would hear her
so he called for his friends
to throw her out
onto the sidewalk
as the black police car
with a twirling red light
pulled up to the curb.

It was Miss Irma Dean
the third floor neighbor
who called the police
and when the car skidded up
to the red brick building
at five-fifteen
the twirling red light
flayed the air

exposing two people
with pants unzipped
shirts ripped
the woman still screaming
the man still bleeding
as a crowd began fussing
debating the troubles
from both sides of the stoop.


Marilyn Greenberg is a painter, poet, and fiction writer. Two of her poems, "Sleepless II" and "The Get," won Third Place and Honorable Mention in the 2001 Annual California Quarterly Poetry Contest. "Parting," a poem in two parts, was a finalist in the 2005 Sow's Ear poetry competition. Her story "Lessons" was nominated for Best New American Voices in 2005. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Red Wheelbarrow, CQ, The Distillery, Green Hills Literary Lantern, Inkwell Magazine, Jewish Women's Literary Annual, Mudfish Magazine, Nimrod, Oregon East, Berkley Poetry Review, Kalliope, Raritan: A Quarterly Review, South Carolina Review, and Writers' Forum.


© 2007 Swink, Inc.