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Crime, Dysfunction and Deviance
Prose by Richard Holdsworth
Yellow rings adorn sparse trees at housing projects round East End. Other parts of town display more tasteful decorations—sparkling lights, banners, flags, and fireworks for seasonal occasions.
But round East End, small bright rings on trees, on scrappy trees, on damaged trees depict the bullet holes where wide-eyed dudes died in disbelief.
Working the Block
All year round a phat young dude faces every type of weather to work the city block where immaturity and greed intersect with desperate need to purchase earthly paradise. All night long,
eager hopefuls come like pilgrims to a Holy Shrine, expecting they can find unblemished blessings and a quiet mind. Then a horde of cops arrive. Turmoil runs. Except for phat dude who stands his ground—badge faces gun. Gun faces gun. One fires first.
Poison Boy’s taste for pain began with his mom’s polluted blood from her mad placenta, in the bitter womb. After caterwauling through his birth, he suckled tainted milk that tested positive for ill repute and whose prognoses absolutely guaranteed painful disadvantage. At the age of one, he toddled out alone to broken streets where chaos crowded with distress, and his pain was fatherless. Clad in no esteem, he went to school, shut down, and discovered no more pain. Numbed out, he learned to work the block and defend his own hot spot. But not for long. It happened quick! He didn’t really feel the hit and never heard his own last shout.
Curfew Violation on a Stolen Bicycle
Nellie should have been at home by ten, but parental shouts of "No!" That used to bind her, spin unheard behind her. Nellie's rising urges soar upon fresh expectations beyond reproachful looks; and out of touch with Daddy’s belt and Momma’s oft-shrieked warnings. Her mooring lines of cautious care quickly break adrift, and Nellie slips away. She freewheels down the midnight city hill. Detached from consequence, she laughs to wing it high in shrill delight and starts the flight to reach her first and utmost Now! Now! Now!
Rapping Nellie: Graffiti Queen
After failing ninth grade again, ever-rapping Nellie drops out of school. She structures her time with rap and endless graffiti. As she raps, she daubs on walls and scratches wooden doors. Nellie raps to herself as she adorns forlorn poles, bland walls, and blank bridges. She dedicates her rhythmed life to dressing drab buildings and tittivating dangerous overpasses. Her sprayed rhyming messages turn into stricken songs. Eventually, she scales great heights balanced on precarious ledges. Nellie becomes Graffiti Queen—renowned for natty phrases and snazzy boasts about her non-existent gang. She invents lovers’ names and depicts ambitious plans. And all the while, Nellie raps on. She even raps to her arresting officer, “Graffiti's in my blood, but no one understood,” And tunelessly, he replies, “Why should they?”
About the author: Richard left Yorkshire, England, when he was 16 and went to sea, where he began writing. In 1973 he graduated from The London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE). In 1979 he came to America from England for an MA in Literature and Creative Writing at Ohio University, Athens, Ohio (OU). He left OU prematurely to become a researcher/writer for a museum design company, using the "New Social History" skills he had learned at LSE. His poems have been published in journals such as Envoi (UK), Poetry Ireland Review, and Comstock Review (USA). He has been a regular non-doctrinal contributor to progressivechristianity.org. In 2007 he received a Delaware Division of the Arts (DDOA) Individual Emerging Artist Award for playwriting, from which this submission developed. In 1996 and 2008, he received DDOA opportunity grants. He has led various literary workshops, dramatic productions, and writers' groups.