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Life Arts

first arrest

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summer 1964

when i was sixteen
reggie & i crashed
a party over on
howe street
the bohemian part of pittsburgh

the four tops
weren't there
but their music was
& a special spirit
you could call it

the police gave no warning
before they barged in
arrested a bunch of us
asking everybody
blacks & whites were at
the same party

the paddy wagon ride
stopped at juvenile hall
(was on forbes avenue then in oakland)
and after i was processed in
they pointed to a narrow wooden bench
for me to sleep on until morning
when they'd call my father
i didn't sleep
just laid there wondering
where they took reggie
who was a year older
but still juvenile
& later found out
they jailed him downtown
til morning

after all
we were caught
& at a 'disorderly' house

--- e b bortz


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Poems, essays, and stories by e b bortz have been published widely.

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