In the Bowery,
sweet Belinda tries to kick the harder stuff.
No one sees her sleeping beneath the paper-thin Dow Jones
scrolling behind the dumpster in the alley known as Hallows Eve.
The New York Central runs down her forearm
three times a day,
but the dark gray hoodie conceals the more prominent whistlestops.
Window boxes bloom in the brown tenements of Harlem,
marigolds taking first place in color and
the Darwinian will to survive.
There is stickball in the shadows as Moses goes on the nod.
An empty grocery cart is driven by a ghost.
Lovers stroll in Battery Park and kiss
from sea to shining sea,
and the linden tree still sways from Jenny’s operatic wind and wave.
In 1850, everyone applauded the Swedish Nightingale’s full-throated ease.
There are good days and bad, broken concrete
above promising earth.
Sometimes Eve strolls through the Apple but doesn’t drop the sin.
A Pratt and Whitney cuts the twins off at the knees,
but Belinda wakes and decides to lose
the lighter and the spoon.
A week later, while the moon washes the streets, she’s perfectly clean.
Sheep and goats, wheat and chaff—they can change late or soon,
so it’s wise to keep the scorecard close
to the vest.
A wise man told me that everyone’s a saint if you read the final page.
All these years later, I think I know what he means.