A Cleaner Times Square
by Vanessa Kittle


Barbara Sutton and Robert Sweeney, Palm Beach, FL. January 17, 1940                        



Eyes everywhere,
eyes without people,
eyes from above,
even within the soft green
houses with gates.

They watch from wall-sized monitors
as the rich gesture and speak
to their furnishings
like dictators of a black tie orchestra.

They watch the factory floors.
Eyes watching legs
and arms and hands.


Flocks of bats
with metallic feathers
swarm whirring.
Eyes always open.

They see the empty city streets
after curfew —
the gorges washed clean of the day's refuse.

The redundants scuttling
through wreckage as roaches
are nothing more than red dots of heat.

This is Times Square,
but a different Times Square somehow,
rinsed with acid —
liquefying all of the organic bums and hookers —
down the drain, down the sewer,
into the river, and then to an ocean
so big it will never get full.

Armored cars like towers roll through the ravines
searching for stragglers.
They are cars without drivers,
cars that breathe electric,
while armies of spiders follow behind
delivering silicon discharge to privileged johns.

Lady Liberty has been sold and painted gold.
She is a north pole beneath a whirling sky —
the city-light stars burned
into circles instead of points.

The sea lapping her feet has formed a natural,
protective skin of gasoline,
under which dives
the starving kingfisher
covered in mucous
with a last pathetic caw.

His cup is filled with the blood
of the last person who asked,
"Should we be doing this boys?"

Those sirens are for you.
The bats are coming.
Can't you hear the whirring of their wings?










Vanessa Kittle is a former chef and lawyer who now teaches composition. Vanessa lives in New York with her partner and two cats. She has published two books with The March Street Press, and she edits the Abramelin Poetry Journal.



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