Jeff Friedman
Jeff Friedman
Sotto Voce
for Roy Nathanson

Call it luck—tonight you get
a seat on the subway
and don’t have to hunch
with your saxophone case and backpack,
gripping the center pole.
The rabbi next to you raps about his new
Cadillac and his congregation
of ants. Dead yarmulkes bob
in the watery waves of the windows.
Call it luck—the Wall Street
mogul gives you a tip,
“Sell your wife and kid and rescue
a building in Red Hook.
Then you won’t have to ride
the subway every day
or hear your students blast
their horns in your eardrums.”
Walls crumble in front of you.
Joshua gets up and waves a sign,
“Free dinner at the league of Rosicrucians.”
The rail sparks, but no fire. Pigeons
wait on the platform
gripping their briefcases
like bombs. Under the noise
a song ticks, as everyone stares
at their feet, as the newspapers
spread over the floor and the fuses glow,
sotto voce, sotto voce.

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