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= 15 =

About this Poem

I was about 15 when I wrote this, I vaguely remember, during a high school study hall when I should have been busy with homework.

New Haven is very multi-ethnic, and we lived at one time on Orange Street, which bordered on a neighborhood (State Street) that had a Polish church (Saint Stanislaus) where the sermons are actually in Polish.

I am totally sure that this study hall was right before lunch. I was really hungry, and daydreaming about being outside in the fresh air instead of cooped up in a dusty classroom.

Saturday Feast in Little Poland

I watch each Saturday in Little Poland
at Allen's Peerless Junk.

It's a ghoulish feast (before lunch)
of licking, lapping flames,
small bodies in the open pit.

They crouch upon a vast
glittering fallen Goliath with
his armor and his baubles -

(You can almost see the giant limbs outstretched,
   a hand upon a sodden chest,
   and think of that
   sausage jumping
   in the bubbling pan at home) -

Chewing little rubber, paper, oilcloth islands
and cardboard cliffs
with rippling, snapping jaws,
but seeming to devour little.

Black, smelly smoke whirls upward,
hot within a cold aseptic wind


—in summer
inky filth on a humid sky;

—In autumn,
dark warmth in cold gray air;

—In winter
disappearing into streams of falling snow
that cover the lukewarm scrap heap with
a grayish film;

—In spring
testimony to the new by old things burning.

That's all year round at Allen's Peerless Junk
on Pilsudski Street
near the black old iron railway bridge.

So come, won't you
come with me, our bellies empty,
and we'll watch this Saturday
at Allen's Peerless Junk
   the flames
      (think of kielbasa bub
      bling in the pan at home)
feasting before their week-long fast.


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