Worcester

Stanley Kunitz, one time
Poet Laureate of the United States,

born and bred in Worcester, MA,
once said this city provoked him to poetry.

I met him only once
and then only for a moment,

would never say I think
we might have gotten along, yet

I will lay odds that on this point
we would have agreed

and from there something like respect and
affable conversation 

might have developed, as I am
easily irked to poetry in the Parkway diner here

over strong coffee, provoked
into meter by watching the rhythm

of a short-order cook working hash
and eggs into perfect harmony, lured to verse

on Harding Street, that paved over secret canal;
irritated 
into forms by the voices of those

who live here and work here
whether they want the town to be

itself or some other town, whether they
love its worn, durable face

or want to cover it by spending
Boston level money on a Boston mask.

Not too far from my house is the home
where Stanley Kunitz grew up, in a city

called Worcester that had
an honest if rough face. I know that face

well. It’s my face, it’s the face
of my next door neighbor from Ghana,

the face of Angel on the third floor
whose mother is staying with him till they rebuild

her storm wrecked home in Puerto Rico,
the face of the old Polish man

across the street who talks to no one, the faces
of all the street people and all the rich ones too.

Worcester’s face is not a face you’d forget,
or want to forget.  Even if it’s covered

one day by a fraud,
a shroud of silk and gold,

it will not die. It will do what Worcester does.
It will say what it means

even if only with its eyes —
pleading, quoting Stanley:

touch me,
remind me who I am.

About Tony Brown

A poet with a history in slam, lots of publications; my personal poetry and a little bit of daily life and opinions. Read the page called "About..." for the details. View all posts by Tony Brown

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