42nd St., Seventies

When I’ve gone out to walk at night,
to tour the streets, mean-dark, false-bright,
of this sick city that is no home
but for the Giant and the Gnome,
the Monsters of Despair, I’ve seen
pathetic sights and sights obscene:
     The fat black man who has no eyes
but two great holes from which he cries
long hours, holding out his cup
for Times Square crowds to fill it up;
     the woman with the bleeding leg
who climbs the subway stairs to beg;
     the legless men who crabwise creep
on wooden gloves to morning sleep;
     the varicosed, tumescent, sick,
already dead and yet still quick;
     male hustlers, leaning in long rows,
posed in mock movie-hero pose;
     porn shops with tainted men inside
some of whom have kissed a bride;
     retarded vendors at their stands
masturbating, hiding hands
beneath big stacks of filthy mags;
     and drunks on jags, and hags in rags,
asleep in doorways commandeered
from rats and stiffs; the other weird
displaying signs of coming doom
Hellfire and Brimstone in the tomb;
     and faces stupified by dope,
expressionless of love or hope—
     these sights and worse are near Times Square
at night when I go walking there.

E. M. Schorb has published several collections of poetry, including Time and Fevers: New and Selected Poems (AuthorsHouse, 2004), which was chosen as a 2007 Eric Hoffer Book Award winner; A Fable & Other Prose Poems (2002), Murderer's Day (1998), winner of the Verna Emery Poetry Prize; 50 Poems (1987); and The Poor Boy and Other Poems (1975); and a chapbook, Like the Fall of Rome and Other Humanitarian Disasters (1980). He is also the author of two novels: Paradise Square, which won the International eBook Award Foundation's Frankfurt eBook Award for "Best Fiction work originally published in eBook form," and Scenario for Scorsese (both Denlinger's Publishers, 2000). His poems and prose have appeared in Best American Fantasy 2007, as well as The American Scholar, The Beloit Poetry Journal, The Chattahoochee Review, Chelsea, The Literary Review, The Massachusetts Review, The Southern Review, The Sewanee Review, The Texas Review, The Virginia Quarterly Review, and The Yale Review, among other journals. His honors include Fellowships in Literature from the Provincetown Fine Arts Work Center and the North Carolina Arts Council, and grants from the Ludwig Vogelstein Foundation, the Carnegie Fund for Authors, and Robert Rauschenberg & Change, Inc. (for illustrations in The Poor Boy). He lives in Mooresville, North Carolina.