Coney Island In Limbo

(First published in The Rag, Winter 2012)

on the wonder wheel he stole a kiss,

and i pretended it was stolen.

we drank on the boardwalk

from a brown paper bag,

chasing homemade empanadas

felisa peddled on the sand.

 

yankee-capped larry

from pop-the-balloon

said we were his only

players  that afternoon.

we knew and he knew

but no one addressed that

his booth would be one of

the first to disappear,

like the trash-strewn empty lot

where the go-karts used to be.

 

rusty americana sold to the highest bidder,

in the name and the price of progress.

the streets are too dirty,

the patrons too poor,

and everyone knows shoot the freak

is politically incorrect.

 

but i remember dancing as

an october sun set—

there was still romance in

the grit and the grime.

the freak i had shot

took my hand and a pint and

we laughed cause ruby’s band

was so bad.

 

past the pier where lines were cast,

the tower rose lacy and red

against the autumn sky.

tiny plastic flags flew above our

hot-dog eating heads and

we took the cyclone higher than the lights.

 

in the distance the

city glowered and offices grimaced where

some fool was burning the

midnight oil because

moving forward is

more important than

saying goodbye.

 

as the train took us back up north

away from the surf

and away from the dream,

we watched through graffitied windows

as the wonder wheel slipped away.