By David Rivard
Featured Art: New York Street, 1902 by Childe Hassam
In his leather snap cap & undertaker’s suit of
shiny polyester black, one of those resisters
of the transmitted order—an aging Marxist lost boy—
alarm all over his shyly determined, axe-sharp face,
tho a shadow falls upon that face, a gloom
cast by the screen flash of corporations gaming
the go-flo of dollars & broadband—he stands
with umbrella outside Starbucks & silently
hands out pamphlets, shucked by cold tourists.
Does he have set rounds at subway stations
and parks full of volatile sleepwalkers? Maybe
he haunts the doorway of Filene’s at tag end
of Presidents’ Day sales? Does he have a day
job? wife or boyfriend? For change of pace
does he sit in his kitchen obsessively scanning
the box scores of road trip double-headers?
Or is he always thinking how the world should
be honorable, justice at hand?—like my old
teacher in the dim Boston University lecture hall
Howard Zinn—your life, he said, drives
history—you can’t be neutral on a moving train—
he died yesterday at 87 but left with his view
still alive & intact of liberation possible for all.
David Rivard’s most recent book, Standoff, received the 2017 PEN New England Award in Poetry and was listed by The New Yorker in its “Books We Loved in 2016” roundup. His five other books include Otherwise Elsewhere, Sugartown, and Wise Poison, winner of the James Laughlin Prize from the Academy of American Poets. A recipient of awards from the Guggenheim Foundation, Civitella Ranieri, and the NEA, he teaches at the University of New Hampshire.
Originally appeared in NOR 14.