42 1/2

For Federico Fellini 

Tall, skinny guy
rides old, dull,
skinny bicycle
on narrow sidewalk,
long thin cigar
straight out
from tight, lipless mouth.

Short, crippled woman
on crooked wooden crutches,
pulls crutches
tight against self,
to let him pass.

He doesn't acknowledge
courteous gesture.

She, with angry thrust of arm
towards peddling arrogance,
fist clenched, slashes air
with straight-up middle finger.

Fat, peroxided blond
in worn, red boots,
dark purple, baggy slacks,
full-length, phony sable

wrestles crutches from her,
embraces them as though
dancing partner, glides
into alley.

Legless beggar lifts
cripple onto 
decaying skateboard,
heads down 9th
passed hubcaps, rats,
too short for Michelangelo sculpture.

from In New York City Air. Copyright © James Humphrey Trust.


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