The Rag

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. 

 

Elkhart, Indiana (a pantoum)

(First published in The Rag, Spring 2012)

 

She’s checking for the soul of her Indiana town

in the obits of the Truth every morning.

Oakland Avenue just hasn’t been the same

since they closed down Judd’s and turned off the fountain.

 

In the obits of the Truth every morning

Grandma sees girls she knew at the factory.

Since they closed down Judd’s and turned off the fountain,

there are no punch presses resisting stagnation.

 

Grandma sees girls she knew at the factory,

and she tucks their funeral cards into her purse.

There are no punch presses resisting stagnation,

since jobs disappeared and machines slowed down.

 

As she tucks their funeral cards into her purse,

she purses her lips to think of her own.

Since jobs disappeared and machines slowed down,

city alone drags forward, forgotten.

 

She purses her lips to think of her own

love gone now like the boat on St. Joe.

City alone drags forward, forgotten,

but dirty river flows on for the young and the bored.

 

Love gone now like the boat on St. Joe,

Oakland Avenue just hasn’t been the same.

Dirty river flows on for the young and the bored,

still she’s checking for the soul of her Indiana town.