A prisoner who had forgotten chains,
He wakened in another place, New York,
Discovered that his chains were tight, and fought
To free himself from demons’ teeth and nails.
The traffic roar and clatter ground like salt
On metal shells, corroded Spirit’s core,
And canceled credit former loves had earned.
The push to hone his craft had lured the man
To bare himself before the strangers’ streets.
Skyscrapers’ lights illuminated dusk
On Broadway, Times Square, and Fifth Avenue;
High heels of debutantes and office girls
Clicked like a Bushman’s speech; bag ladies picked
Through rubbish in a canister for cans
To peddle; taxis honked in traffic jams;
Electric billboards blinked and boasted wares;
The junkies jostled corporate lawyers’ wives
And friends who shopped at Saks Fifth Avenue
For blouses, skirts and dresses; models posed
By sculptures; traffic lights winked green and red;
The watchman for the three-card monte game
Whistled a warning to confederates;
Graffiti subway cars slid open doors,
Swallowed suits, gangs, and clerks, the poet’s peers.
“South Bronx Subway” by Danny Lyon