Its a hot night in hungry town
A white light looks yellow
in the not too far distance
A window slightly veiled
with modest curtains like sheets
through a crack life is moving at right
angles in a room
A large brown arm slowly
reaches for a refrigerator door
and a hundred years of
pulling out something
very important
but anonymous
like the person who is observing
this one act play
How many lives has this act played through
this reaching for something in a
Suddenly I'm hungry

In a window just to the left
and one floor higher
framed by the darkness of 9pm
a fan moves back and forth
Knowing its lines like a professional
I'm convinced that its very hot tonight

hot night in hungry town

Jesus and Miraculous Mother candles
burn in this window
Its difficult to say why
except that they are the nicest ones
in the corner bodega
They burn a long time
Longer than a one act play
illuminating the right angles
my steps make from bed to pen
A light goes out
and waits for darkness
The last arm reaches for hope
and the light switch
We all sleep behind curtains
waiting for the act to begin again
Maybe something will be different


At 9am
Nelly screams at the Mexicans
playing evangelical Latin music
two floors above
This happens every Sunday
Maybe because they want us all to
wake up with them
and observe
God's day
Nelly doesn't care
she just wants to sleep
in the 60 years of oblivion
that she has worked toward
A man yells back at her to move
her bed away from the window
I'm grateful in these moments
that I speak Spanish

Every Sunday I'm grateful

I can tell the time by the groans
of Hungry Town
At dusk
a little girl sings vaguely like
a woman though off key
Her twinkle- twinkle
sweet voice filters
through the dusty sounds
of car alarms
This happens every day
and every Friday and Saturday night
a constellation of
salsa beats dot the streets
just below
the Jesus and Miraculous Mother
candles that burn
for those who can no longer
reach for a light -
Maybe a grandmother . . .

I'll wait for that brown
arm to get me hungry again
and that fan to cool me down
and the Mexicans to remind me of God
and Nelly to remind me of death
and the burning flame
of a dollar candle
to remind me where
we all go when the act is over
and next time my fingertips WILL
reach the light switch
and the curtains WILL fall
and a big brown arm will reach for
a hundred more years of milk
to the rhythm of the faithful
and the nearly departed
and a little girl will sing
to her grandmother:

"Its a twinkle-twinkle goodnight in Hungry Town."

Free Williamsburg | 93 Berry Street | Brooklyn, NY 11211
[email protected] | October 2000 | Volume 8