Category Archives: urban life

Trouble town

I hate this weed.

Mostly it grows in pathways, but occasionally the burmuda grass and foxtails get into a garden bed, and that sucks. So I was outside pulling up these weedy grasses, which have invaded the parking strip even though I covered the parking strip with straw then wood chips up to six inches thick. Weeding can be satisfying work. Passers-by say hello, chew the fat, ask me for a quarter. Because remember, I’m not living some rural lifestyle with baby goats and rabbits. I’m living some urban lifestyle with baby goats and rabbits.

A reminder of my urban farm: gun fire. Two shots, very close. Somehow muffled. Now, it IS firework season, but I knew those were bullets. Eventually the cops came.

I went upstairs to take the photos, because I think the police don’t like cameras.

Then I went back downstairs and kept weeding. “What happened?” A guy in a reggae hat asked. I had been eavesdropping on the cops, so I knew a man had been shot, not killed, upstairs in the apartment across the street. I became the town crier. A family who frequents the goat area drove by and asked. I grew tired of telling the news.

Then a guy named Kilo who squats in the big brick building came out and asked what happened. He seemed shocked, in awe. Since I had absorbed the information for over an hour, I said, “No big deal, it happens all the time.” Kilo and I have a strange relationship–he wants to hate me, but he can’t quite. But my casual observation set him off. “You say that–that it’s no big deal because they’re black,” he said. He sneered and looked at me with disgust. “Oh please,” I said.

He walked away, and for the rest of the day, I was haunted by his accusation. At first I was in denial. Shootings DO happen all the time here. But that I had become so casual about it–that IS disturbing. And those who die, shoot, and kill are 99% black. But was that why I was being cavalier? In my heart of hearts, I don’t think so. I think I’ve just become desensitized to the violence. I mean, how could I say a man getting shot isn’t a big deal? I pledged to apologize to Kilo, and waited for him to come back.

I weeded all the burmuda grass in the two parking strips. I overheard one of the cops, a woman, say “Happy Mother’s Day,” and then she sped off. Then I put down more mulch. I heard more gunfire. Kilo never came back.

I stood and looked at the passion flower. Soon there will be fruit.