By J. T. Barbarese

I emptied the poor box and fed the nickels and dimes to a meter, a
gumball dispenser, a slot;
I brought the leaded glass to an antique shop on South, and the
pews became bonfires and block parties
with chicken dinners from the kosher butchers on the other side
of Broad, everything set on the altar for the vets
who spend Sunday morning detoxing, chain smoking on somebody’s
front step, getting chased off,
damning their sons sonofabitching their daughters so stupefied by
compulsory education compulsory religion compulsory
and missing their grandmothers, who were still taking the trolley
to the garment factory every morning, age 67, on partial
coming home to her own row house, working miracle Campbell’s
soup dinners for two, getting weekend meats from
Nunzio the Chicken Man on Point Breeze,
cursing what kind of God kills a husband and leaves a woman a
widow at 30 with six children a mortgage and no insurance,
married to a 32nd-degree Mason who translated for Pershing, the
only insurance salesman in history to die uninsured,
leaving me alone so I could read Les mariés de la tour Eiffel stolen
from Temple’s library in that back room with a window
and a record player and a French dictionary,
or walk up to the university museum, four miles each way, and to
walk back happy,
letting me have my privacy, letting me work late into sometimes
summer mornings,
or sleep late on Saturdays and Sundays with no bother about obligations,
or sleep even later that morning in June after the assassination in
the hotel kitchen after the California primary
leaving me to mourn alone under the railroad bridge 25th and
Washington, leaving me just a note,
Coffee on the range just turn on the gas love you Gran.