He sits like one of the park’s statues,
knit cap pulled down to his eyes,
blanket tugged up to his mouth,
five rotten teeth his most memorable feature.
I put a dollar in the cup.
read the statue’s cardboard plaque,
memorializing Marine Corps
battles in Vietnam.
Name’s Walt, but they call me Reds,
came to NYC for a woman.
lived in Baltimore once, too,
ran adult bookstores,
Everybody wants to leave here now,
it’s not the same, he says.
Is Polock Johnny’s still there?
Take care of yourself, I say.
Women’s Rights are Human Rights
proclaims the smooth banner,
purple, green and gray,
strung across the wall,
The Society for Ethical Culture,
33 Central Park West.
Forty or fifty paces past
the society’s somber stone,
past women’s rights and ethics,
One Central Park West,
My Brooklyn-born woman was here yesterday
International Women’s Day,
loving the cabbies,
men like her father,
waving, leaning on horns,
encouraging hundreds who chanted,
“We are the popular vote!”
Jose Marti astride a surging steed,
glimmering in ebony,
dominating nags and buggies,
inviting tourists to
hallucinate themselves into royalty.
Etched in Jose’s stone:
defender of human dignity,
literary genius vying with political
foresight, lived in exile,
fifteen years in New York City.
Across from the statue and the nags,
106 South Central Park Drive,
Trump International Realty.
A selfish man is a thief,
wrote the poet, Marti.
I return to my hotel,
the popular vote,
Photo used under a Creative Commons license from Flickr user Eden, Janine and Jim: https://www.flickr.com/photos/edenpictures
Len Shindel began working at Bethlehem Steel’s Sparrows Point Plant in 1973, where he was a union activist and elected representative in local unions of the United Steelworkers, frequently publishing newsletters about issues confronting his co-workers. His nonfiction and poetry have been published in the “Other Voices” section of the Baltimore Evening Sun, The Pearl, The Mill Hunk Herald, Pig Iron, Labor Notes and other publications. After leaving Sparrows Point in 2002, Shindel, a father of three and grandfather of seven, began working as a communication specialist for an international union based in Washington, D.C. The International Labor Communications Association frequently rewarded his writing. He retired in 2016. Today he and his wife, Maxine, live in Garrett County where he enjoys writing, cross-country skiing, kayaking, hiking, fly-fishing and fighting for a more peaceful, sustainable and safe world for his grandchildren and their generation