Martín Espada
Poet, Essayist, Editor & Translator



            245 Wortman Avenue

            East New York, Brooklyn


Forty years ago, I bled in this hallway.

Half-light dimmed the brick

like the angel of public housing.

That night I called and listened at every door:

in 1966, there was a war on television.


Blood leaked on the floor like oil from the engine of me.

Blood rushed through a crack in my scalp;

blood foamed in both hands; blood ruined my shoes.

The boy who fired the can off my head in the street

pumped what blood he could into his fleeing legs.

I banged on every door for help, spreading a plague

of bloody fingerprints all the way home to apartment 14-F.


Forty years later, I stand in the hallway.

The dim angel of public housing is too exhausted

to welcome me.  My hand presses

against the door at apartment 14-F

like an octopus stuck to aquarium glass;

blood drums behind my ears.

Listen to every door: there is a war on television.


from The Republic of Poetry


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