on ruby jacobs walk, a
asked us for money for ice cream.
she eyed our cones
with a child’s hunger
glinting and opportunistic
as she held out her palm for coins.
i was not yet accustomed to the shapes and sizes,
to a dime being smaller than a nickel,
and in any case wanted to preserve them for souvenirs
so we shook our heads and walked away.
a year later, writing this poem,
i learned that ruby jacobs was a local restaurateur
who, as a boy,
illegally sold ice creams
for a nickel on the boardwalk.
a nickel is the larger coin
the size of a ten pence piece.
i know that now.
the wide atlantic rose from a sloping manicured lawn
like everything here
the airborne flag
above a wide pavilion,
a fanatic wedding cake-topper
against the blood-blue sky.
out of my shoes and let the white sand burn my feet and jaggedly fill the spaces between my toes
the atlantic held its wide arms open
though we weren’t, as we imagined,
but south to new jersey, across the bay.
the gnarled boardwalk was a
song of the twentieth century
a roll-call of mass-market capitalism
here in the city that didn’t invent the concept
but certainly perfected it:
ice creams (we’ve covered that)
i bought an espresso cup with a picture of the president
and the caption:
i stopped to take a photograph
of a space-age building from the fifties
which turned out to be
a public toilet.
from the sunbaked d train
brooklyn spread out beneath us
the houses garnished with american flags
then the city coughed us up on seventh avenue
and night fell five hours early.
This isn't finished. I started it a while ago, and recently added a few more stanzas just to flesh it out to an ending, but I feel it loses direction and that the second half wasn't written with the same intention as the first. I will update this as I continue to redraft. [BA 20.7.17]