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Undertakers

By Danielle P. Williams

In Trenton, there are diners, and
jug-handles, and hoagies, and dads that
haven’t seen the faces of their children in days.
There are projects that have nothing to do with
arts and crafts. There is more death than
life walking.

In Trenton, bodies crowd in vacant
houses. Boards block the sight of bloodied
needles. No light to enter the homes of people
long gone. Stiff arms. Empty mouths.
Black faces. Blank eyes.

In Trenton, you better monitor your
utility bills, the crackheads from five houses
down are known for siphoning water from your
garden hose, and convincing your ninety-eight-year-old
aunt with dementia they’re family. Getting familiar
with working light fixtures, heat that softens skin,
warm plates of fried chicken and collard greens.

In Trenton, there are children who
have already lost themselves to people who
label them worthy of colors meaning far more
than you could ever learn in elementary school.
Who are both the trapped and the trappers. Who are
born in the game, never got the chance at a real name.

In Trenton, there are symphony shoot-outs,
a tremolo of bullets, empty shells collecting curbside.
Grandmas peeking through blinds to see a drug deal
gone wrong. Bullet to the head. Body cradled by potholes.
A lone river of blood following the corners of the curb.
Yellow tape. Fresh chalk. Don’t worry, the city will
send the street sweeper in the morning.

In Trenton, there is a gallery displayed on
every abandoned house. Ride through and see
faces of the famous. Understand that they only
honor the dead when they are rich and familiar.
Forget about the friends lost last night. Veins plump
with poison. Nobody ever thinks to exchange names,
let alone a face, cold and shaking next to you.
So, go on—paint another mural of Biggie.

In Trenton, the very first thing you see upon
entering is a fucked-up slogan on a
faded green bridge.

It reads: Trenton Makes, The World Takes.

In Trenton, there is a small boy. Made of flesh.
Residing on Oakland Avenue. Two weeks into pre-k.
Black. Hopeful. Let’s hope he doesn’t find out that the
world only takes what it deems acceptable. Leave all the
trash and dead bodies for others to deal with. Leave all the
children without futures, give them lifestyles that are far too
rough for hands un-calloused.


Danielle P. Williams is a writer from Columbia, South Carolina. She earned her BA from Elon University in Arts Administration and is a MFA candidate in Poetry at George Mason University. Williams strives to write poetry that gives a voice to unrepresented cultures. She has a passion for understanding and connecting with the past, and makes it a point to expand on the different narratives and experiences of her own cultures. Her poetry is featured online in Scalawag Magazine, All The Sins, and The Write Launch.

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