It’s a bleak landscape of busted toasters,
blackened skins of plantain, cans of Spam
and a mess of miniature bottles.
Circling in a wind over the detritus,

Chinese menus offer $5 for any lunch,
and an Alturka flyer hawks Sis Kebab
with halal meat. I also see mounds
of what must be Rottweiler excrement.

Little bottle labels can still be read:
Cutty Sark, Tequila, Ouzo, and Smirnoff.
I think of the momentary relief
one small swig can bring

to not see the squalor
of this Demolition Zone.

Broken down houses
wait for the bulldozer,
a cemetery of cars rust
in weed-filled yards,
and signs overhead scream:

“I Buy Houses ASAP!”

Angry-looking guys hang out
in a car blaring raging Hip Hop.
They glare menacingly at me
as I cover my ears and walk
past the pungent smell of pot.

Looking back over my shoulder,
I hurry down Valley Road
to the safety of Upper Montclair.