They are fixing up the neighborhood
belle of my boulevard, Lula Mae:
I hoped you would come again today
wearing your favorite black shoe.
Oh you, mother to the street corner child
who knew their names, cried for the nameless too.
It is cold. Ice rain bullets the storefront sidewalk
this somber April day.
And the scent and sound of you
are gunned away.
Up ahead a supine pigeon lays sorrowfully dead
amid the swerving traffic of the busy street.
The stoplight solemnly soldiers yellow to red.
No Samaritan will lift the rigid bird,
feather the alley garden with its shallow grave.
Jackhammers shrapnel the chilly air instead.
A broken line of helmeted white men
march upon the widowed and the weak.
Their pink lips hard, their legs long and lean.
How they spit rough words, cold and mean!
They want the conquered cowed;
command them not to speak.
Their regiment bunkers the embattled land
in the belligerent wind,
indifferent to the saintly and the sinned.
I look, and swivel about
for you, bag lady, I cannot live without.
Your ten hats layered high,
a colorful tall cake for a Cleopatra crown
leaning like the tower of Pisa.
And your mad wig-Queen look,
and madder parrot talk:
“Oh, these no good men and their sugary lies.
Pimps and their wandering eyes.”
The unlit streets, dead ends you have known
when your voice still sang so lovely a tune
that Saturn turned and stared,
disbelieving at the dumbstruck moon.
You could do Broadway with your caravan
of twenty shopping bags.
The back and forth along the backstreets,
ferrying your world
from way station to way station,
two at a time in each hand.
More than half your lifetime cruelly spent
looking for home.
On a blue park bench,
under the Lake Park viaduct,
sleeping besides the lake in the company of geese.
I hear the youthful glee in the invading voices
floating skywards to the talons of the light pole crows.
They are rolling through the rubble now
in the dilapidated southern lands:
Opening boutique pet stores.
Such food they have for dogs rescued from no-kill
organic, dried buffalo tails
to chew on.
And you, my lovely Lula Mae
arthritic now and old,
hauling cans of expired Campbell’s
to suck on in the dark and cold.
So much we have,
yet much more has gone away.
I’ve lost, I’ve lost the haunting song,
Oh sweet symphony of you, Lula Mae.