The Ghost on Johnson Street

The neighborhood, sometimes tatty
occasionally post modern
mostly gabled Victorian houses
with porches smiling in the sun
was perfect for student renters.

My father abandoned the South
in 1907 to spend his freshman year here
before the harsh winter chased him home.

Did he walk this street every day to class?
A fleeting thought until I stood
before the yellow brick building,
Romanesque arches with two story columns
and a bulbous window.

The green awning read
Pinkus McBrides’ Market & Deli.
Above it—l893—worked in brick.

Is this the place
he got the idea for the book store
and chili parlor across the street
from what became his own alma mater?

Other than a nickname
he carried for life, is this where the idea
for success began?

Memory invaded and I stood on another sidewalk
in another city outside old Presbyterian Hospital
smoking a cigarette and waiting for results of the spinal tap.
I knew he was dying.

Today he would be one hundred and fourteen years old.
No. Today, not was, but is.


Poetry Monday