Nostrand Avenue

Mervyn Taylor

Nostrand runs all the way from one
end of Brooklyn to the other, where
going with a girl into the Windjammer,
my friend met his wife coming out.

Round midnight the Kings County
crew gets off at Clarkson, speaking
of being so tired, of early retirement
and which handsome doctor they’d

like to take home, once the house
in Toco’s finished, and the old bones
hold up. They know every scar, every
bullet that goes off in East New York.

Nobody knows why the young man
who got on at Eastern Parkway cried
and cried until he got off at Empire.
Mother dead, father dead, who dead?

Now where Nostrand intersects with
Fulton, down from where the crowd
crossed between Terrace and Fightback
on Saturday nights, the hipsters sit,

eating roti and drinking lattes. Upstairs
on Franklin, Evelyn’s mural has faded,
the bald proprietor gone, his parts
scattered all over the island. Preacher

closed his barbershop, where once
you could get anything, from suits
to shoes, and went back to Marabella,
moving into the old house his mother

left him, declaring war on the squatters.
He hardly recognized Suzy, who vanished
the night they danced in Frontrunners,
and he ran out on the avenue, looking. 

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