Wednesday, June 19, 2024

The Bowery at Dawn

Whitman and Thoreau are usually out the door by six,
the first to leave their off-track cubbyholes—
leaves of grass piled to the ceiling’s naked light—

to observe seagulls spindrifting on high Manhattan air,
to watch the Brooklyn ferry lumber through decades
coiled like movie reels in their transcendental eyes.

Emerson, stumbling through the lobby, claims the East River
is full of transmigrations, currents of the Oversoul’s rise.
Kerouac awakens late, dons a wife beater,

is on the road less traveled half past the hand-rolled joint.
Hamlet is the only holdout, sitting in his nutshell
and calling himself a king of melancholy space.

Let us not be too harsh to judge the rags and weeds
shuffling down the pavement, harvesting dandelions
to accent their six-by-ten palaces of crack and speed.

We all live in the rundown El Centro Hotel, condemned,
a dust mote spindrifting through the solar system.
We are hungry hobos stirring in the Bowery dawn,

hoping to catch a wave of luminescent biocentric soul,
a ribbon of stars to carry us past the nine-to-five syringe
and find our home, wherever that may be.

~William Hammett

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