New Year’s Eve

Statue of Liberty

(photo credit – BEV Norton)

No traffic
bus arrives early at Port Authority
Times Square barricaded
as if we are under siege

At the office
tolling the hours
without bells
or fanfare

New Year’s Eve

It’s getting colder
is winter coming
or did we miss it this year?

polar bears on melting ice
Mississippi River flooding
people living on the streets

the young woman huddles, arms over head
on the southeast corner of
Third Avenue and 42nd Street

I see her every day
I want to know who she is
but am afraid to ask

her cardboard sign says she needs
more money for shelter
and “Happy New Year”

Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses, yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore,
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door.

What would Emma Lazarus say today?

Shiny tourists rush past her
with children, well-fed and tan
going to see the ball drop tonight
or the Radio City Christmas Spectacular

how brave of her to write
“Happy New Year”
in black marker
in defiance of her circumstance

I hope she has one
I hope we all do

[Note: Section in italics is from “The New Colossus” by Emma Lazarus]

High Five

blue boy

(photo by Gisella Klein)

The little boy was standing near the corner of 40th Street and 8th Avenue, across the street from Port Authority Bus Terminal. He was standing to one side of the amNew York newspaper rack and in front of his parents who were pouring over a map. I presume it was a map of New York City. Clearly, they were tourists.

The little boy could not have been more than four or five, his right hand held out to the side so people could “high five” him as they rushed by. Only they didn’t all rush by. Some slowed down, miraculously, to slap his tiny hand. New Yorkers are not known for slowing down for anyone. His smile so wide and bright you’d think this was Disneyland or some other fairy tale place, magical and full of wonder. His parents seemed either oblivious to what he was doing or felt he was safe, or both.

I stopped in my tracks for a moment, thinking this might be a joke, watching the man walking in front of me high-five the boy. I thought, I’m not gonna do that, it’s too weird. But then a flash of whimsy overcame me, and I slapped the boy’s somewhat grubby hand. What a smile! He was the human toll booth you had to pass, but didn’t have to pay. You could ignore him and walk on by, but why would you miss an opportunity for pure joy, however fleeting?

It made the bus ride home so much sweeter.