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.