Naomi Shihab Nye

West Side

In certain neighborhoods
the air is paved with names.
Domingo, Monico, Francisco,
shining rivulets of sound.
Names opening wet circles
inside the mouth,
sprinkling bright vowels
across the deserts of
Bill, Bob, John.

The names are worn
on silver linked chains.
Maria lives in Pablo Alley,
Esperanza rides the Santa Rosa bus!
They click together like charms.
O save us from the boarded-up windows,
the pistol crack in a dark backyard,
save us from the leaky roof,
the rattled textbook which never smiles.
Let the names be verses
in a city that sings!

spoken = Ayelet Firstenberg