Bury Me in BlackRoseCity
An elegy for Norwich, CT

By Frederick-Douglass Knowles II, Poet Laureate Hartford,
Inaugural Poet Laureate of Hartford, 2018-


When I die, bury me in BlackRoseCity,
where Mahan Elementary taught me how to
daydream, sitting at my desk, behind the piano,
Ms. Gilluly's 5th grade class, feigning for McDonalds'
from across the street, chicken McNugget sweet; where Salem Turnpike
turned into Great Skate, zooming in & out of electric poles, where every
colored complexion caught disco-light fever to roll; where stories were told
-too many to capture in my eulogy. Bury me in BlackRoseCity, where
Teachers Memorial Junior High field tripped me to Boston and New
York City, strawberry schnapps spilt in the back of the
bus, streaming down the aisle, young, 8th grade
and wild, with Artie, Kevin, Katie, Tara,
Yolanda and Hwa-Chin, where our
infinite bond began, and I found
a handful of lifelong friends.


Bury me in BlackRoseCity,
on the hill between Jane Arms
and Oakwood Knoll, behind Bonanza's
and Zayre's, and let me stare into the Valley of
Thames, where the squirrels will engrave our
names into the coat of their acorns. Bury me, in BlackRoseCity
on the West Side, on the apex of Summit Street, back
when Aunt Nancy's neighborhood was a cultural
crock pot: Jews, Blacks and Browns stirring
the stew, before the recipe eminent domain(ed)
into Dan Jenkins Park. Bury me, at the Block
Party in '83, The Bridge Is Over blaring
into the field where the brothas forged
like steel, whenever New London
knuckleheads tried to jump bad,
but headed back down Rt. 32,
mumbling through fat lips
about what they should
of and shouldn't do.


Bury me, in BlackRoseCity
next to: NFA, Mohegan Park,
Hamilton Football Field, East Side,
Laurel Hill, Lake Street, the Red Rabbit,
Sportsmen, Portuguese Club, Johnson Sand Pit,
Bowling Alley birthday parties, Greenville, Taftville
Carnival, Norwich Tech, Young Folk's Shop, Gordon's,
Palace Theater, Norwich Cinema 1 & 2, Barkers, Kings, Ames,
Marcus Plaza, Benny's, Two Legs, Norwichtown Mall Arcade,
Caldor's, Beauland Church, The King Center, Spaulding Pond,
Mohegan Park Zoo, St. Peter & Paul Fair, Uncas, Buckingham,
Veterans, the Sheraton, the Golf Course, Malerba's Farm, Melrose Park,
the Dirt Bike Trails, Forward's Pond, East Great Plains Firehouse, Delia's,
Vocatura's Bakery, Seafood Etc., the first Kentucky Fried Chicken, the PLAV,
VFW, American Legion, Pings, 783, Woolworth's, G. Foxx, the YMCA, Otis Library, King Wah, Oaktree, Olympic Pizza, nickel night at the Village Green, Mohegan
Park Apartments, the Maennerchor, A&P, Bee-Bees, both Friendly's, Fairlawns,
Reid & Hughes, Elizabeth (Wood) Street School, the Rec, Masonic Temple,
Principal's Mansion, freshman football, Coach Spayne, Coach Mignault,
Mr. Iovino, Ms. Agrenawich, Mrs. Hendle, Mr. Fields, Mr. Blackstone,
Mr. Snitkin, Mr. Sorello, Mr. Tarka, Mr. Kotraba, Mr. & Mrs. Osko,
my mother, Mrs. Knowles (who took no shit from no student,)
Ms. Fitzgerald, Mrs. Turner, Mrs. Hogan, the City Dump,
Wawecus Hill, Norwich Motel, Charlie's Supermarket,
Scooby's, Radio Shack, Thom McCan's, Genovese,
Uncas on Thames, the State Hospital, Backus,
Crocodiles, Indian Leap, McDonald's,
Friday Night Burger King Parking
Lot Fights, The Falls, Montville
Road, Pizza Hut, TVCCA,
Seaside,"575," before
Wal-Mart was a
vacant lot.


Bury me in BlackRoseCity, in Maplewood Cemetery
next to Gammy, and Eve Montgomery, and Ms. Macy too,
and maybe my roots will seep through the soil for my Saige to see,
how my grandbaby is an extension of legacy, a branch of the Fullwood Tree,
teach her like LaForest Knowles taught me; how to strap on your armor and leave
the battlefield bloody. Let me gaze at a Mohegan Sun eclipse; tell the city I did it
for them, and I'd do it again, when God gives me a new strategy to play the game
again. I did it for my family, yours and mine, and when it's my time, tell'em
what I told'em, then tell'em again; that the petals of my city wilt and
renew like a season, leave them with a reason, to garnish the rose
that grew through concrete, Tupacian Philosophy, we've shed
so many tears in this T.H.U.G. L.I.F.E., Dear Mama,
thank you for making me, and raising me, so one
day they bury me, in BlackRoseCity.