A Suburban Alphabet

Where I’m from,
            when I was a kid,
The streets in each subdivision
            all began with the same letter.
So, if you lived on Oxford Street or Oakwood Court or Olympia Circle,
            you’d say you lived in the “O” section.
That’s where I lived—in the O’s.

The O’s and the R’s were cool,
            but if you lived in the H’s you had to make it clear that you were from
            the real H’s along the highway,
            not those ragged-ass beige apartments that happened to be on a street             called Highland,
            nowhere near the H section.
            Those kids said they were from the H’s,
            but we all knew the truth.
If you were an F or a G,
            you were rich
            and you had your own car to drive to school.
(You do not fuck with an F or a G.)

M’s were aloof,
T’s were weird,
S’s tended to have parents that were
            strangely undivorced.
D’s did drugs,
L’s hung out in the park, and
A’s walked to school.

And that’s everybody.

Oh, also the black kids.

We didn’t know what streets they lived on
            because they were bussed in

And we didn’t ask them.

—Jonathan Balcerak, Wauwatosa, WI