The Boy Died in My Alley

Gwendolyn Brooks

The Boy died in my alley
Without my Having Known.
Policeman said, next morning,
“Apparently died Alone.”

“You heard a shot?” Policeman said.
Shots I hear and Shots I hear.
I never see the Dead.
The Shot that killed him yes I heard
As I heard the Thousand shots before;
Careening tinnily down the nights
Across my years and arteries.

Policeman pounded on my door.
“Who is it?” “Police!” Policeman yelled.
“A Boy was dying in your alley.
A Boy is dead, and in your alley.
And have you known this Boy before”
I have known this boy before.

I have known this Boy before, who
Ornaments my alley.
I never saw his face at all.
I never saw his future fall.
But I have known this Boy.

I have always heard him deal with death.
I have always heard the shout, the volley.
I have closed my heart-ears late and early.
And I have killed him ever.

I joined the Wild and killed him
With knowledgeable unknowing.
I saw him Crossed. And Seeing, I did not take him down.

He cried not only “Father!”
But “Mother!”
The cry climbed up the alley.
It went up to the wind.
It hung upon the heaven
For a long
Stretch-strain of Moment.

The red floor of my alley
Is a special speech to me.