Treasure Island

Hans Ostrom

(1954 / California)

Alleys


An alley never concerns itself. An
alley always concerns the social
geometry that shapes it—a pompous

boulevard’s way of saying
alleys will gladly be whatever cities
want ‘em to be. I’ve never met

an alley, though, that didn’t have something
to say about disappointment. An alley’s
often a lane with a rap-sheet, or

a refugee-camp for shadows. Once
I knew an alley that would get drunk
and boast that it used to be a highway.

Submitted: Friday, November 09, 2007
Edited: Saturday, April 23, 2011

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Comments about this poem (Alleys by Hans Ostrom )

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  • Tom J. Mariani (11/15/2007 10:06:00 AM)

    Your poem has recalled a differnt alley for me. Actually saw it this last weekend when we drove up one, out of my sister in-law's garage. One boy on a bike with bouncing wagon forced to follow tied by piece of rope. Another boy following as fast as he could on foot. That's where I used to play. Protected from traffic. Old man Mitchell's dogs would always warn us it a car was coming. Nothing disappointing when the alley was young; fresh oil and gravel. I agree with your poem though. Without the two young boys there, it is a dusty shadow ridden place. (Report) Reply

  • Gary Witt (11/10/2007 1:47:00 AM)

    Hans: I like this one. Reminds me a little of Blue Highways by William Least Heat Moon. Back streets almost always have more character than thoroughfares. Streets are planned, alleys are more spontaneous. Alley cats are more interesting than lap dogs. And the Back Street Boys are (were) a misnomer. Thanks!

    -G (Report) Reply

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