Brian W. Budzynski – The Tenement – 3

 The Tenement
by Brian W. Budzynski

Abandonment of the block served some purpose:
People fucked there, husbands with others’ wives
teenager on teenager. 
It made up, somehow, for the lack 
of material stuff, a conciliatory prize for selling off 
possessions objects stories, what was lived,
cresting the line of abject destitution
but only just. 

What’s more, the buildings became a playground 
of found objects for the children. Steps chalked 
in dust good enough for footfalls to create 
cloudcover up to narrow hips. 
Strewn battlements of grappled life: 
a watchless chain, a set of curtain rods, 
blocks of wood, the potential enormous, 
a precious few zloty crannie-tucked into the very walls, 
into splits exploited by weather, pressure, poor workmanship. 
These great empty carousels where they crept 
through holes and hollowed windows, skinning 
their oblivious knees. 
Their tiny grubby fingers anchoring them, unbroken 
voices searing the air with joy. 
Wheels of wet hay and mud trundled down 
musty staircases, blind bets on how far 
until the splatter. 

Mothers loathed this propensity. Slaps and rendings 
nightly recorded by the somnambular stroller, the barfly. 
Not cuts and bruises the mothers feared, but vagrants 
seeking dry places to whet addictions, a partner 
to share their pallet, age just a number, 
gender a convenience. 
Eventually a man from Public Works stepped in. 
Sniffed the air and chain link went up 
ten foot tall. Signs posted, a dog let roam. 
Isolation within isolation. 

They carried on, of course, the children, 
the impediments only enhancing derived pleasure, 
the wonderful risk of dares and chidings.
Made friends with the dog on off-cut bits of meat 
and could one bear to part with it the odd sweet. 

Brian W. Budzynski has worked as an editor and writer of magazines, trade journals, and textbooks in the Chicago area for the past 12 years. He has a BA from Illinois State University and his MFA from Roosevelt. Several years ago, he published a novella titled The Remark through the Mint Hill Books imprint of Main Street Rag Publishing Co., and just last year published through KDP a short novel titled A Kind of Careful Brightness. His journalistic work has been recognized with Jesse H. Neal, ASBPE, and TABPI Awards for writing and research.