Barbara Eve

Third Avenue Poem

If only the Chinese laundryman
had not bent
over his lunch of rice alone
in the back room clicking
the kernels from bowl to mouth

and the red-eyed workman
had not yanked
a coat from the thrift
shop rack and run
out without paying

If only the humpbacked ragwoman
had not slouched down
the cereal aisle mumbling
about prices

and the mongrel’s master
had not stooped by
the curb to examine
his dog’s droppings

If only the hot dog vendor
had not trembled
when he spread the mustard
and apologized
through a face full of scars