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Friday, December 28, 2007

44th and 6th

I wrote this about 15 years ago after a trip to New York City. I fear it still may apply-


44th and Sixth

The old man stands like a shadow in some deep South shanty,
beer-swilling, Main-Street town,
as he covers his head for the New York cabbies and bus drivers
who pass him every day on his corner as he stands and waits.

He stands on the corner of 44th and 6th,
stands their every day,
to greet the bank manager and his help
as they rush to work.

Go away old man,
take your stubble-face,
and your hunger-stumble walk,
and your booze-sour breath,
and go away.
We don't want you here.
You're not our fault.

A man in a three-piece Italian suit hurries by
and the old man stumbles across the sidewalk,
a smile on his blank, glassy face;
Hey, old man,
don't stare at me from your corner of the street;
I am not your solution,
and you are not my problem..
I have problems of my own.
My BMW is always in the shop;
my club is admitting Jews and blacks;
my accountant is screwing my accounts,
and my wife too, every Thursday;
so get out of my way, old man,
I'm in a hurry.
I need a good stiff drink.
And don't stare at me, old man.
I am not you.

A passerby gives the old man a dollar
and the last half of an uneaten sandwich from the local deli,
and the banker glares at him through his glass wall,
as the old man stumbles away to eat the sandwich,
and to use the dollar to buy some respite
from his reality.

But he'll be back.
In a day, or a week, or a month,
as you pass there again,
scarf tight against the slicing November wind,
the old man still stands,
head bowed,
like a shadow in some deep-south,
pickup-truck, Main Street town,
lost and at large in his reality,
as the cabbies grind by,
and the buses miss him by inches,
and the banker sits behind his glass wall,
because its not his fault.

16 comments:

Buzzardbilly said...

Ah, a poet!

The last time I was in NYC I was heartbroken to see a young business man dressed in his Barney's best letting his fancy dog eat some homeless man's food while the homeless man was sleep with his arms lovingly wrapped around the take-out container of food someone had given him.

Big cities break my heart.

Malach the Merciless said...

Nice, I like it

sirdar said...

Good imagery!! It does seem to happen today too...not only in NYC.

Cissy Strutt said...

Timely. Thanks, colonel.

Simply Curious said...

Fuck, fair warning before something is sad please.

Raised in SF, I have to say it's not much different out out there...

NerdGirl said...

Correct, this still applies today, and not just in NYC. All over the world. Here in our beautiful city they are shunted around from area to area ....

Mike said...

Sadly, it does still apply. Very nice Colonel.

Catalyst said...

Nicely written, Colonel. And 15 years ago puts you at around 29 or 30. A sign of a future blogger!

FOUR DINNERS said...

He's a poet and didn't know it...

Like it. It is very apt today 'n all. Sadly.

Phoebe Fay said...

Beautiful. Sad. True. Beautiful.

Colonel Colonel said...

BB: Nice sense of ethics, that young businessman had.

Malach: Thanks!

Sirdar: Yes, it's not just a NY thing at all.

Cissy: You're welcome, as always.

SCG: Sorry, I'll warn next time.

Nerdgirl: Yes, a popular solution is to send them elsewhere, which solves a lot...

Mike: Thanks!

Catalyst: Ah, if only I had known, I have stopped right then.

Dinners: Thanks, and yes, perhaps more true now than ever, really.

Phoebe: Of course, according to The Decider Americans are doing better than ever...

Tequila Mockingbird said...

i like it.

Hungry Mother said...

Very nice poetry. 44th and 6th conjure up some memories for me, too, but I couldn't put them so well.

Colonel Colonel said...

T-Bird: I'm glad.

HungryMo: Thanks!

Joey Polanski said...

You fergot th final line ...

"Lookin fer fun & feelin groovy."

Colonel Colonel said...

Joey- whoa, slow down! You go too fast.