A Mural for Brooklyn

Under the sapphire sky
the wind gently nudges me.
It is Brooklyn.
Asking can I lend my
eyes,
ears,
heart,
and hands.
Why me? I ask.

See first
and listen
with an open
heart.
It will guide
your fingers.
Each despaired,
In search of a truth,
only you would know.

A man sits by the barred window
in a thirteen story building,
overlooking a basketball court.
He stares out with crimson eyes,
beaten by the faint traces of powder,
left around the rings of his nostrils.
The night calls him,
beckoning that next hit.
The soft whisper of a
raspy voice crying out to a
lost Brooklyn.

In a housing project,
two boys play ball.
One on one.
Shallow, broken lights.
Do not hinder the game.

They move fast,
blocking, shooting,
with sweat pouring,
despite the chilly air.
Gunshots echo off the buildings,
they stop and look.
The ball rolls on towards a
lost Brooklyn.

She waits patiently on Fulton Street,
train delayed.
Hollow eyes in sunken sockets,
aimlessly staring.
A start of a new day.
Teenagers laugh playfully.
The old black man, with a crooked
smile, sings out of tune over a
Beatles track.
While a blonde-haired woman
rocks, twirls, side steps.
Bumping into the lovers
standing near the edge.
One lays his head
on the other’s strong chest.
No apology,
as a dollar drops
into the pork and
beans can.
She pulls the sleeves tighter,
of a wounded Brooklyn.

Below the rumbling of
the passing train,
a mother and child sit,
on steps seeped with piss.
Worn suitcases,
shopping bags.
Mother’s head
buried into lap.
Small fingers caress a
bare back.
A face beyond its age
cast swollen eyes.
Soft prayers
from a child,
waiting for
God to reply.
A heart filled
with hope,
to heal a
wounded Brooklyn.

In a Brooklyn College
classroom, he sits.
Not knowing if he will
finish out the semester.
Make his family proud.
The first graduate
he could be.
Is it worth it?
The corner
he keeps warm at nights,
where the fiends lurk.
Reaching out to him, as if
he is some kind of savior,
healing them of an affliction,
reminding him of a fate
meant to be.
Is it?
A heavy sigh
escapes his lips,
with little hope
of what tomorrow
can bring.

A cart full of used cans
pushed
along Moore Street.
Drunks,
with drowsy eyes,
sprawled out in front of
the Liquor store.

“Where the hell you going?”
The cart keeps moving
past the long,
repeated cries
of chickens
caged inside
the poultry shop.
Past the wafting smells
of La Cocina restaurant.

Past the Puerto Rican
pastor, handing out
little booklets
“Jesús te ama mi amigo,”
he says.

The cart moves
slowly, the man’s
soiled feet
and stained
brown blanket
to keep warm
against Brooklyn’s
cold heart.
His cracked palms
pressing tighter,
searching for
a life that is
lost.

They march.
Desperate
to be relived of pain.
Left only with the
bitter taste,
of a chewed,
failed aspirin.
“Are you ready for the revolution?”
he asked.
“I don’t know.”
He runs towards the
stoned faces
in blue waiting.
Beer bottle cracks
across one of
their skulls.
Picket signs fly
in air, happy to
be released.
“Fuck peace,”
she yells amidst
the crowd. They all
join in this newfound
chant.
He’s been tackled,
thrown in the big
white van.
They March.
“Are you willing to go to jail?”
Another asks.
“I’m not sure.”
They March.
Into the
outstretched arms
of the Brooklyn Bridge,
Who, welcomes
revolutionized hearts.

I stand behind,
not knowing
which way to go.
As the crowd pulls
further away from me,
Brooklyn’s soothing voice,
fills my ears.
Each word spoken
renews my spirit.
There is hope
for those who
have given up.
Peace will be
restored back
into broken souls.

Brooklyn nudges
me a little harder.
I walk in the opposite
direction.

*Editor’s Note: This poem was previously published in The Gordian Review which is no longer in print.


Christina Renee Milliner lives in Brooklyn, New York where she is currently writing her first novel. She holds an MFA in Writing from Lindenwood University and a BA in English Literature from the University of North Carolina-Charlotte.