Broken Arrow

Did you see them?
The Indians.
Sitting against a wall on St. Mark’s Place,
All those many cold winters.

This street was once a stream, he said.
This island was once our home.
We slept on the big round rocks, hot in the sun,
And the women smiled.
You could fish there and live forever.

Now our hands are always dirty
And will never be clean,
Until the Great Day
When not even the liquor man will look for us.

Now you talk with the hand signals of the hunt.
The rocks are hot in the sun.
The stream flows.
The women smile.
The fish live forever.

Will you buy me a bottle?
They won’t serve me.
They say I stink.
Will you buy me a bottle?
I have the money.

We cross the river of shit.
Are you sure you want it?
I’m sure.

Joseph Balletti, an art historian, is the author of a novel, The Goddess of Wealth, and a book of poetry, Seldom Seen Poems. He believes a better world is within reach. Read other articles by Joseph.