Dan Bellm





from Delle Avenue

(Roxbury Crossing, Boston, 1978)

5.

The world as it is, the world as I imagined it -- 

what do you dream, what do you imagine -- 

the world transformed, the world as it is, 

where I turn a corner one hot summer morning
	into a little avenue --

the shapes of houses, the shapes of thoughts,
	melting together a little in the humid air --

what do you imagine, what do you wish for, what do you dream --

if not a home just a place I might afford to live --

the world I dreamed up, the world in front of my face -- 
	the world transformed, the world as it is -- 

a line separating the two like woman and man, white and black, 
	grownup and child, straight and not --

the city is split, the world, split, our imaginations, split --

what do you imagine, what do you wish for, what do you expect -- 

working for next to nothing, not expecting much, 			
	expecting love in a theoretical time to come,

childlessly caring for children all day and organizing a union, 
	knocking on doors with the union paper 
		like a missionary with the truth --

there's the world as we want it, and there's the world we've got --

timid survivor out to change the world 
	and everything changes 

but the world doesn't change very much -- 

horny, starving, now and then a man in my bed 
	who leaves in the morning, what do you expect, 

wanting to love, not expecting much --

what do you imagine when you are working, what do you want --

just to change our childhood, 
	just to dismantle the world and start over with the way 
		the spirit and the mind are fed --  

the real world, the world we never had --

and one summer morning I turn up a little avenue -- 
	woman leaning on her window sill 
		to check the day's sky 

says you're a nice boy, I can tell --
									
loud little TV blaring the telenovela out the corner store, 
	black and white kids hollering over stickball, 
		actually playing on the same block, 
	guy on a stoop offering me speed under his breath --

the world as it is, melting alongside a somewhat faster world 
	in his mind --

an island in the city, a little shabby, a little avenue set apart,
	a little beautiful, a little unsafe at night,

a little place for rent, two rooms, plank floors, brick walls, 
	ascetic, charming, cheap, 
a little bathtub facing a couple of little bullet holes 
	out on the fire escape --

the world as I imagined it, the world as it is --

the neighbors are painters and dancers, Little Sisters of the Poor, 
	houseful of gay boys in a punk band, 
a mom who puts on plays with the kids out in the street, 
	a mom from Puerto Rico running for Congress --

what do you wish for, what do you imagine, what do you want --

just to remake the world, starting with our street --

and I see a shy boy peeking from behind an upstairs curtain, 
	the veil of separation between worlds --

I know you, child --
										
what do you imagine, what do you dream --

I know the world is split, the city is split, our imaginations are split --

tell me a story, 

tell me the way we close our eyes one morning and reopen them 
	at the center of the world, 
		the world transformed, the world as it is,

the way a person comes to know another, 
	the way a person changes to someone new,

the way a story springs out of the heart all at once in many languages, 
	fashioning a heaven of words among us in the air --

what do you dream, what do you imagine --

just to make the world as real as it is, and ourselves as real in it as we are.