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"1st Place Winner of the Open Community Poetry Contest for the period July 1-Sept. 30, 2012."--ed.

 

At the Viand Coffee Shop...

 

on Madison Avenue

          which must not be confused

          with the Viand on East 86th

          or the Viand on Broadway

come the young ladies fresh from

their visit to the Met

or, if they dare, the Whitney

         because one can only

          take so many Rothkos

          or Van Goghs

          in a morning

wearing their

dazzling tennis whites

which have never seen,

and will never see,

a ground stroke,

as they pick apart their

salads

and each other.

 

Now enter

the ladies

bearing handbags

with names

like children,

     the real thing

     of course,

     no knock offs here

as they survey the

dieter’s special

and eye the desserts

cordoned off

behind the counter.

 

Their conversations hushed

as they spread

butter

and gossip.

 

Two blocks away

from the Viand Coffee Shop

on Madison Avenue

     which must not be confused

     with the Viand on East 86th

     or the Viand on Broadway

stands a refugee

from Senegal

as black as the plum

into which she bites,

its juices dripping

down the side of her hand,

as she quickly sets up

her display of

counterfeit handbags

on the street-corner.

 

She is

real;

the plum is

real;

the bags –

     as she will quietly tell you

     in her rich Senegalese accent,

     with her breath scented by plum -

are beautiful,

but fake.