Noir Haiku Grunge

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,
                     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,

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,
The City’s dressed
to dine.

Alternate Side of the Street Parking
Some Orthodox Holiday,

Twenty blocks
up Madison
before the first red light.

                     Sometimes the city

By the river
heading north,
the GW span
bejeweled at night
the dark

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.

You might also like his memoir Botswana 1971