Concrete and other measures of a neighborhood

By Patrick T. Reardon


Let me tell you about my neighborhood.

Like any neighborhood. Like yours.


In the curb, in the cement: “David 11/29/86.”

Our son, the date the city of Chicago workers

poured the concrete for the curb.

He was a year old.  I used my car key.


Nanay — “mother” in Tagalog, language of the Philippines.

A grandmother already of her own family,

a block away, caring for grandchildren.

Cared for David and later Sarah when we were at work.

Became their grandmother — their Nanay.


A neighborhood of Koreans and Vietnamese,

Irish, Germans, Poles, Serbians, Croatians,

Italians and Romanians,

Asian Indians and American Indians,

African-Americans and Africans from Africa,

Mexicans and Guatemalans and Columbians and Haitians

and Nicaraguans and Cubans and Peruvians,

Chinese, Filipinos, Pakistanis, Palestinians,

Assyrians, Russians and…


A neighborhood of Coca Cola factory workers

and ex-priests and nursing home inspectors

and building janitors and busboys and cab drivers

and judges and crossing guards and engineers

and actors and chefs and cops and secretaries

and musicians and teachers and mechanics

and drug store workers and social workers

and waiters and…


The Major and Wally,

Lawrence and Louie, Rudy and Feli,

the house where a suicide may have occurred,

the backyard with tomato plants

where David’s bicycle was stolen

by a United Nations of three 11-year-old robbers,

the townhouse where Sarah’s friend Rowena lived,

the way Sarah pronounced “Rowena,”

the gentle slope up to Ridge Avenue,


the alleys,

the streets,

the curbs,

the sidewalks.


The precinct captain comes at election time.

Our garbage is collected. 

Our snow-filled streets are plowed.

Vote Democratic.


On the sidewalk along our porch, in the concrete:

“Sarah 5-6-92.”


Patrick T. Reardon


This poem was originally published by Silver Birch Press on 2.9.2015.

Written by : Patrick T. Reardon

For more than three decades Patrick T. Reardon was an urban affairs writer, a feature writer, a columnist, and an editor for the Chicago Tribune. In 2000 he was one of a team of 50 staff members who won a Pulitzer Prize for explanatory reporting. Now a freelance writer and poet, he has contributed chapters to several books and is the author of Faith Stripped to Its Essence. His website is

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