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Mar 2013
it was warm
for a winters eve
unusually warm
but damp very damp
birthing a persistent
midnight mist that
crawled over everything

avenging
halogen angels
flitted down from
streetlight perches
skidding through
bare limb bars
of broken trees
roped in by sagging
telephone wires

skulking
seraphs
joined
ebullient
neon auroras
laughingly
brake dancing,
jittering away on the
pock marked rims
of hip hop streets

the fine drizzle
descending from the
black urban heavens
splayed holy water
over the bodies
of anything
that moved; and
layered mounds
of transparent beads
on all inert things
chiding those yolked
to weighty burdens
to seek relief of
a much needed
breaking point

our
slouching city
mired in a cycle
of a prolonged
historical rut
beavers away
to lift the lid
on tomorrows
tipping point
in a desperate
labor to stop
tripping over
itself...

a dinged up
Sentra’s
flashing spinners
twisted round
our dark corner
nearly clipping
our troop

inside the
yakking low-riders
scuttled along,
their hidden ***** eyes
cruising the stoops
and cyclone alleys
scoping opportunities
for the next
jolly hustle
to feed
a growing
angry fix

tonight
Mother Nature was
running a *****
to the wall third shift,
manufacturing a
stationary low
of gagging precip
churning volumes
of Vulcan smoke
conjuring
convective spirits
from all the
dim places

emanations lit
the balmy January air
rising from
stubborn gray patches
of despoiled snow
and rancid ponds
organic gutter water
composting
in distilled pools
awaiting leakage
through flotsam
clogged sewage grids

Paterson’s
litter police
could close the
city’s budget deficit
if all infractions
were properly cited
and paid in this
neighborhood

this queer elixir of
rising vapors from
evaporating snow
escaping the cracks
lining the bowels of
mordant streets
joining descending
screens of billowing mists
blurs boundaries of light,
diffusing temporal time

people and things
lose precise definition
reducing sentient beings
to moving silhouettes of gray
photographic negatives
framed in dribbling palettes
of pastel hues

our
5th Ward mission
planted in the
hub of a neighborhood
still holding on...

Old WASP’s
of St. Paul’s
long ago
winged away
from this
princely
Episcopate
principality

the abandoned
conical nest, its
chambers filled with
the mud of 50 dead rectors
precariously clings
to its shivering
boulevard corner

its endowment depleted
its earthly treasure rusting
grandiose Tiffany windows
remain the last legacy of an
opulent faith now
shamefully rattling away
in moth eaten frames

once icons of
adulatory reverence
the final sparkling asset
of a distressed religion
begs to be monetized
by flummoxed vestrymen
yearning to extend
a stewardship
over a dissipating
ESL flock

distress in the hood
parades down Broadway
in all directions

a few blocks east
a shuttered
Barnert Hospital
transfigured into an
urban enterprise zone
for health-care privateers
working overtime to
extract federal
corporate welfare
rent subsidies
dutifully fulfilling
fine print obligations of
Obamacare legislation

Old Mayor Barnert’s
namesake synagogue
once hard by
City Hall
is long gone
its absent footprint
now centered by
a thriving
White Castle

near Broadway’s end
on the outskirts
of Eastside Park
Art Deco Emanuel Temple
the last anchor
for the city’s Judaism
lies vacant
awaiting a renewed
purpose

fraught with irony
a thriving Islamic Center
stands juxtaposed
across the street
from the old
Hebrew Temple

we wonder what
will emerge
from the
hallowed chrysalis
of decommissioned
Emanuel?

rumors of a
Great Falls Art Center
trickle like a leaking faucet
failure to secure a mortgage
in the post credit
bubble pop economy
dams the possibly
of a new centers
coming to fruition

will
the city’s
changing
demography of
reverent Muslim’s
genuflecting
across the street
take time away
from prayer to
patronize a venue
offering decadent
bourgeois jazz and
risqué reviews
of retro Borscht Belt
vaudeville?

when Constantinople
became Istanbul they
converted the Christian
churches into mosques

when the Inquisitioners
drove the Moors from
Granada they converted
the Grand Mosque to
the Cathedral of the
Incarnation

what incarnations
will this city’s
twilight bring?

As Byzantine
begets
Constantinople
begets
Istanbul
the links
in the Silk Road
spanned west
to the new world
of mechanized looms
powered by
Great Falls
raceway water
and a distribution
and procurement
chain anchored
by the Morris Canal

Capitalist
modernity
begets
our Silk City
it also bespeaks
its demise

in the courtyard
of St. Paul’s
a muffled chorus
trawls the thick air

a posse of pimps
done wrangling
their stables
of $5 ******
sing reveries to
the evening haul

midnight lullabies
of corner crooners
lift a Capella hosannas
from the dark armpit
of an alley behind
the Autozone

“i said
you say
what can make
me feel this way
my girl”

juiced pimps
cashin in
livin large on
a skanks
50 cent haul

the trade in flesh
of distressed
human capital
remains a
growth industry

Music Selection:  
Temptations, My Girl

jbm
3/1/13
Oakland
Part 1 of extended poem Silk City PIT.  PIT is an acronym for Point In Time.  PIT is an annual census American cities conduct to count the homeless population.  Paterson NJ is nick named The Silk City.
James Bradley McCallum
Written by
James Bradley McCallum  New Jersey
(New Jersey)   
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