Academic journal article Transactions of the American Philosophical Society

Forty-Second Street

Academic journal article Transactions of the American Philosophical Society

Forty-Second Street

Article excerpt

The sidewalk gapes open down dark basement stairs

You could fall there among kegs and cardboard cartons

spider-webs and planks The brokers and the broken

pass on the street Acacia leaves swirl up

in schools of golden flying fish Then we see them

mashed in porridge in the gutter

In the back room of the library, old wooden card catalogues

tilt every which way, their tongues lolling out

An earthquake-stricken city emptied of ideas

as the wooden telephone booth in the marble hall

waits for phantoms

to ring with news of the other world

Outside, dropped boards clatter to the pavement

A truck clanks over a pothole, its hydraulic brake

squawks release Cars shush by Banks fail

East into morning Forty-Second Street

is a blinding, nickel-plated strip Water hissed and gargled

all night in the bedroom wall

I made my prayer

to Nuestra Señora de la Soledad

and dropped Shakti's Paperback Spiritual Guide to Self-Transformation

in the trash with onion peels, melon rinds,

teabags, fishbones, and holiday photos

of impeccable childrena

[Author Affiliation]

Professor in the Committee on Social Thought at the University Chicago. …

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