Nowadays their round faces

Strew the streets like copper suns

In a galaxy of torn paper shreds,

Fragments of things broken and anonymous,

Not worth the stoop for a retrieval.

Some time ago the penny had its day.

It commanded a long paper strip

Across which marshalled

Studs of varicolored candy dots,

Or a dozen tiny chocolate babies,

Or a handful of yellow- orange kernels of candy corn

Or a minor lollipop.

A community of five coppers

Could produce a cup of coffee

Or fuel a ferry ride

Across New York Bay

Or send one subterranean

On the subway from the Bronx Zoo

Past the concrete crystals of Manhattan

To the raucous carnival of the Coney Island Boardwalk.

I still keep two

To be laid against my eyes

As carfare across the Styx.


2 thoughts on “Pennies

  1. We usually bought a cherry lollipop, a roll of licorice or smokeweed candies.
    Imagine how long ago this would be. Your NYC memoirs are a special treat. A little while ago, I read the book “Tenderbar”. Your poem covers any description of the area and its inhabitants. Magnificent capture of a time long gone.


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