Times Square

This used to be a neighborhood in decline.
Now it’s wall to wall tourists.

Above, scaffolding torsos
grip tight to sandwiches
to keep them from falling.
Wind blasts up through the subway grid,
flips a skirt or two.
The city’s full of life,
above and below.

At the edge of the human stream,
there’s bargains to be had
in knockoff bags and wristwatches.
One vendor chews on a toothpick.
Another rubs his chin.

The vacationers shove and squeeze their way
to the Wednesday matinees.
Daylight neon modestly glitters
from theater marquees.

Some locals prefer the way it used to be.
It had character then.
They say a guy can’t even get mugged any more.
But at these prices, I can.

John Grey