City Reminiscence

Elevated subway


In New York long ago

When nickel coffee reigned,

Above Third Avenue

On bulky structures, stained

Rusty orange like old teeth,

The rumbled roar of the el

Flattened conversation down beneath,

An iron demon out of Hell.

Southeast a street of tranquility

Where the literary sensibility

Could graze on weathered books,

Fondle dog-eared pages,

Inhale their musty smell.

Fourth Avenue below Union Square

Was inhabited by small shops

Barricaded by long boxes on legs

Stocked with multitudes of old tomes,

Jumbled display of outcast dregs

Of private collections, printed ruminations

From obscure minds to be bought

For a mere few cents.

Dickens sat with Einstein alongside

Obscure statistics on the shape of bones

Of cretaceous creatures

That had stalked these very streets

Emitting snorts and grunts and moans.

This terminal moraine of thought

To be excavated for nuggets –

Antique volumes, odd British comic publications,

Gold stamped leather bound collections

Of men, pith helmeted, in deep explorations

Carefully depicted with fine-lined steel engravings

Plus a plethora of forgotten PhD dissertations.

Today this archipelago of print is long gone,

Eroded down to one last Strand

Where still the studious flip pages

With a searching eye, an anxious hand

Fondly recalling one of New York’s finer ages.



2 thoughts on “City Reminiscence

  1. Jan, this one looks familiar. I love your graphic. This in connection with your words enables me to visualize the areas you describe. Special emphasis goes to the heavy bridge, and in contrast to it, the golden colours of the block of houses.
    I loved the picture then and I love it now just the same.


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