From the archives – Madison Square Tableau — Joseph Harker

Madison Square Tableau
— (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.

from Autumn Sky Poetry 22 — by Joseph Harker

Twitter: @JHpoet

Time lapse video by Frederick Van Johnson

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