Autumn Sky Poetry . . . Number 22 . . .

Madison Square Tableau

     by Joseph Harker

          — (a helix sestina)

And here's Fifth Avenue on a Friday: hollow,

rings like a church bell of bone. Pumps-and-skirt ladies

weaving with Japanese tourists and boys with stains

on their knees, the drifter calling out, Please, please,

with a cup full of quarters and dreams. Who can tell

one face from another? There isn't any sun

ringing the towers with light. This tourist, with his son

on his shoulders, lifts his camera, a long hollow

one. He snaps the Flatiron, heads for Gershwin Hotel,

with hipster trainees past his feet, here to lay these

weavings on a quilt and shout, Art For Sale. Their pleas

and craftwork move no one. Passing taxis leave stains

on the sidewalk. The day wears on, trades disdains

with disappointments, the slow fathomless waltz un-

ending, and always the drifter's calls of Please, please,

weave in the crowd. Nobody stops to say hello.

One drops a dime: fixed-gaze woman, Midtown lady,

ring on her finger. Art For Sale. One could foretell

with certainty her path: recon, business intel,

weaving through the land of Silk and Money. What stains

ring the soul of such a proper face? The lady's

one of those who crowns herself with the midday sun

and thinks nothing of the moon. Polishes her halo

on her sleeve. Stalks away. She has no time for pleas,

weaving as quickly as that. Art for Sale. Please, please.

One boy passes, pink mohawk, post-punk (you can tell),

on Broadway. Snags some fags: ten bucks and a hallo,

and peels back the cellophane. He's got nicotine stains

ringing in his teeth: but knows how to catch the sun

with his hands, knows how to reach up, pull down, lay the

one next to the other, quiets the hipster ladies

and shakes the gold Indian-head box. He whispers please

with a lover's deepness. Cellophane glints with sun

rings, sun pools, sun eddies, breaks the sky: go and tell

on the mountains, hills, penthouse floors, here the cloud stains

weaving the Earth were bleached away. For a hollow

minute, the ladies paused on the pavement, and sun

knew city, stained its weaves against that hallow face,

ringed with one forever light. Tell it true. Please. Please.


Joseph Harker is the pseudonym of a twenty-something from the east coast of the US. When not wandering from city to city and getting up to mischief, he writes poems whenever he can. You can see his work in both print and online journals, such as Ganymede, Chantarelle's Notebook, and Qarrtsiluni, but it's easiest to find him at his blog, So far, his summer has been all right.


© 2011 Joseph Harker