Nothing here in New Haven is
short of miraculous. The downtown
is always full of people who
enter or go past the bars and
restaurants and bookstores
and cafes and department stores
and theaters and galleries,
catching their dreams like frogs
catching flies with their tongues,
while the office typewriters buzz
like beetles, and the air is filled
with dust and the fumes of engines
and the noise of construction
workers drilling for some BIG
are recycling freaks, to be sure,
and the panhandlers at many corners,
and the homeless sleeping on benches
on the Green when the weather
is warm, and there are smells
of pizza and falafel and gyros
and hot dogs and hamburgers, and
there are smells of marijuana
and urine and stale beer, and you
can spot all the skinheads and
the deadheads and the airheads
and the Yalies with heads swollen
with books, lectures, and films,
and you can feel New Haven pumping
in your heart and your veins...
and somewhere there's some guy
pumping a girl in the back seat of
his car, and there's trash all
around and used condoms and empty
beer cans, and there are lawyers
and policemen and worn-out pros-
titutes and the drug pushers
and the junkies and the homosexuals
and the "artsy-fartsy" types,
street musicians, misfits, mad
poets, posers, yuppies, and preppies--
like some big heap of humans piled
up in some grotesque situation
without a big EXIT sign to get
out when the show is over...
So I observe it all like a stranger
without my popcorn and a ticket
to that never-never land of
opulence and enchanting women,
while the sharp knife of reality
stabs me deep inside my guts,
telling me that I'm alone in this
city of clowns and prophets,
beggars and businessmen--all
hungry for some fix of power,
money, sex, or drugs, or booze,
or some other short cut to Life
Everlasting... So I get back to
my suburban refuge in Westville
only to find my parents arguing
over money.

                            June 24, 1990
                        --Alexander Shaumyan