Workdays (after Lawrence Ferlinghetti)

by Susana H. Case

Sometimes on the Q train, I’m tempted
to stay all the way to Coney Island,
the end of the line, commuters
clutching Starbucks cups
under cement skies, to where love is, where
I might walk barefoot on sand,
or eat Russian vareniki with fried onions,
watch the old people sun themselves
to crinkled ruin, semi-naked on a boardwalk
with too many nails
poking through rotten boards.
A metaphor for this world, and it’s hard
not to despair, even when the ocean rolls in,
the cathedral-like ocean,
this stretch of it that seems so alive,
so unlike the death scenes
in Goya’s The Disasters of War.
Goya never wrote about his intention
in making those prints.
What can artists and poets say except:
Look at what we’ve done in this world,
our Wonder Wheel of humanity,
ever sliding on the rails between hub and rim.