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  • We used to live above a bagel shop owned by
    those Jews,
    my father once told me.
    I didn't care, their bagels were good.

    My mother worked in a pastry shop down the street,
    ran by
    some guido.
    I'm half guido.
    On my mother's side.
    She was a wop,
    my neighbor told me.

    My school was the same distance as the pastry shop,
    but in the other direction.
    My uncle told me my teacher
    was a chink.
    I was excited about that because
    I was going to learn a lot that year.

    We would walk everywhere in Astoria.
    We had a car.
    It was a p.o.s.
    Conked out in an intersection.
    Mom hugged me until it was over.

    My grandparents lived further down the street.
    Grandpa said I wasn't allowed to walk over alone.
    He warned me about the
    porch monkeys
    that lived in between.
    We had encyclopedias in the apartment
    "porch monkey"
    was not a known species.
    That terrified me.

    My dad used to pick up things from a convenience store,
    owned by
    I went there once, after school, to say "hi" and get a water.
    That was not his name.

    Mom had to run back to the pastry shop one night. Told me, once,
    "lock the door and wait here".
    I heard a lock break, but not ours.

    I remember unlocking two deadbolts and unfastening
    one chain.
    I peered downstairs at two men with masks on.

    One saw me.

    I think he pretended that I
    didn't exist.
    That was nice of him.
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