Greenpoint, October, 2015

Monday, August 11, 2014

Coldly Took Their Nickels

Sixth Ave. & W. 4th St.
How could we omit Paul Goodman from our summer series, Poetry/Motion? Goodman is rightly known for many things beyond his poetry. His social commentary, plays for the Living Theatre, contributions to the development of Gestalt therapy...  But handball playing? The characterization of the Puerto Rican kids is facile at best ("hot youth"), but the poem still captures a quintessential New York City street sport. (I'm encouraged to see kids playing in the park in Elmhurst, as well as seasoned "pros" like those on West 4th above.)

Handball Players

The ball we bought in December
was tired in the shop
and didn't want to bounce at all
on the below-freezing court.

Arrogant in their hot
youth the Puerto Ricans
challenged us and smashed the wall.
But Dave and I were cold,

steady and intelligent,
and coldly took their nickels
dimes and silver quarters
with small shots in the corners.

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