On a sunny early-‘50s day
in my pre-teen years,
when a Good Jewish Boy like me
might know heaps about history and the Holocaust
but nothing at all about sex,
I wandered half-confident and half-afraid
up 38th past Albemarle and Alton Streets
past barely-known Yuma
and then into the unknown:
Van Ness,
turning left when 38th ended at Upton.

Nervously, I walked past a strange institution—was it an insane asylum?
to 37th and then up 37th with a school below. Past a grass field,
two streets formed an ell, where normal homes resided—but I had no more courage
and walked the long trek home.

This was my first glimpse of Idaho Avenue and Rodman Street,
where future friends might even then have played,
Mike on Idaho, Flora on Rodman.
We might have met, had I not been afraid.
In later years, Flora’s home was key—it was where the Eggheads later gathered,
read plays together,
gave pretentious scholarly presentations,
earnest virgins still unaware
of the hells life held in store.