An ode to a vanished New York City, when Squeegee men roamed the streets and homeless folks camped out on the tracks under Riverside Park, and when you could still live on the cheap and have some dignity.
by Daniel Gover
Under an off-ramp underpass water drips, Steel support post bolted in rust, a car sits, waiting: Red light. Tenement backyard concrete grass, Acacia tree in crack of shade, pathetic green amidst the gray. The Empties Guy comes up the street with giant plastic bags. The supermarket waits, Trembling. Red blocks car, busy street. Bold Squeegee men dash out to wipe. Under Riverside Park New York Central tracks Wait quietly, Homeless folks drift in to spend the night. Up Parachute Jump at Coney Isle, The stranger next to me became my closest friend. Night wind shook dangling wires. Palisades Park shone bright from Jersey, colored Acropolis, darkened cliff. I danced there once to rock n roll. On city rooves a water tower preens its wooden crown. From glass high-rise setting sun blinds eye on Jersey heights, the Hudson still. Kids off the bus From Allentown, Hungry. The City’s dressed to dine. Alternate Side of the Street Parking suspended. Some Orthodox Holiday, Hallelujah! Twenty blocks up Madison before the first red light. Sometimes the city works. By the river heading north, the GW span bejeweled at night necklaces the dark beyond.
Dan Gover is a native New Yorker living in exile in Jersey. He’s so old his memories go back really far, to Palisades Park and Squeegee guys. Humor him.
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