Yours the voice, grandfather, so trained to stage and flair,
you now walking past the new Grand Central 
Station where one-winged indoor birds 
must fly in pairs, 

you just back from performances in Winnipeg 
strolling past the Armory 
exhibit, the art so twisted you can only grin
where an audience abhors 

You know this walk through downtown
past the churches that cause a twitch behind
the knee, 

gas light flaring the breath of lovers,
electricity the sharp string that runs through
your chest, the pain of her leaving you
like the tremble of holding your son
who will never be yours,  

though it’s me,
the son’s son, in the next century, 
telling you the women in doorways,
their sad eyes and seedy furs, are just what’s left 
of a playbill, 

and this place that sings all around you
is the poem you walk within, the last haven,
the first awakening, 
where your boxer’s hands, 
and dancer’s feet 
and tenor voice 
and crippled smile
are nothing to the night, to time, to the slow dawn
of apartment buildings, to the early hours 
a young man began to write you back

who still cannot see your face.              
John Allman | Mudlark No. 37
Contents | The Frolicking Friars