Corona (and I’m not talking about the beer)

I’m talking about a place that is a little village

perched under the number 7 train in Queens

between Junction Boulevard and 111th St.

 

I’m talking about the Corona Ice King

Spaghetti Park and P.S. 19.

 

The Corona F. Scott Fitzgerald

called the valley of ashes

as the Great Gatsby drove past it

on his night of carousal, but what me

and my own know as home.

 

And we didn’t know about any valley of ashes

because by then it had been topped off by our houses.

The kind made from brick this tan color

no self-respecting brick would be at all.

That’s Corona.

 

I’m talking about Flushing Meadows Park

home of World’s Fair relics

where it felt as if some ancient tribe

of white people had lived there long ago.

 

It was our own Stonehenge

our own Easter Island sculptures

made from a time when New York City

and all the country

was imagining the world’s future.

 

Back when the future

still seemed exciting and glossy,

like some kind of old stainless steel

science fiction movie

not now when the future seems

like the inside of  a dark coat sleeve.

 

I’m talking about Corona

under the shadow of Shea Stadium

where brown men became famous

and moved to Long Island

where our brothers played baseball

in the tar school yards on the weekends.

 

Back then

our brothers’ futures

were so open and they were so close

they all dreamed the same dream together

 

That with the crack of a bat

and the pull of their skinny brown legs

they could run away from the smell of garbage

the fear on the streets

the boys beating them up

when they came out of the masjids

in the evening.

 

They could hit that bat and it would land them

all the way into the safety of Shea Stadium

and then passed that into the island

that was long and rich

where all the baseball stars lived.