Monday, April 30, 2007



Saint Margaret Mary's faces
Temple Bethel through
the uphill triangle of benches
that points down to flowers and a box,
locked and polished for a slow
ride north. Electricians
probe the neon sign: “ALTER
FUNER.” Tools jingle and clink.
The living line the benches, sip
air from the various past, rehearsing
shopping lists and coffeecake,
glad of the slanted sun. Net
bags balanced on slats,
they talk of dwindling circulation,
their wars, or test the quietness
of cane and pavement. Some sleep,
lulled by narrowing light or the sheer
gravity of groceries and time.
Maples drift and whisper, drop
their bright mementos on the scant,
leveling breeze. The leaves scrape
the slate pavers, wear the stone.


Past shrieking, glassy goods,
banks and bars, Paradise's
flat marquee, between slabbed
walks in a green accident
above the buried, growling trains:
Poe Park. Bullets chatter
from the bandstand, send
Mohawks howling through
the swirling skirts of ghostly dancers,
innocent obligato. Kid
size, the cottage holds his relics:
a cupboard bed too small for sleep,
a window good for one eye,
a dollhouse desk. He stares
from the wall, train-tilted, entranced
by time’s stately, phantom waltz.
A small boy peers inside,
sees dark, leaves a little
puddle on the nameless ground.


Between black spikes
under the idling trains
the busses spew their blue
monoxide. Last stop:
Woodlawn. Tall stones
lean like teeth, spit
red mounds in the bright,
prosperous grass. Angels
oversee the gray
procession, arms upraised
in stony benediction,
spilling prayers and solace
on the populated earth.
I greet the permanence
of peach, blessedness
of blue, grateful gray.
Across the hollow figures
dot the hill, rooks
perched among the lilies
lined like monuments,
each alone with his breath.
At my feet I watch
the virid, ravening grass.
Mine. And breathe: breathe.


By blue, tilted slate,
under windows hidden by
the aisle of old red maples,
Angelo creaks uphill
with the willing rhythms of his aged mare,
vegetables fat for the neighborhood wives.
Past Jimmy's Thunderbird,
the red-kneed roller skating
girls rocketing cracked-up
chalk-filled sidewalks,
past initials keyed in concrete
near the mailbox that was horse
and drum for every skinny kid:
Monroe Avenue. Home.
Doors that let me into life
have weathered. Chips fall. New
names announce the letterboxes,
fleet inscriptions on a row
of burnished tombs. But the trees
still fill the street with leaves,
still music the scattering wind.


L.M.Noonan said...

They're all really, really good BUT I love Woodlawn

Anonymous said...

On this beautiful spring day it is good to be alive...breathe.