Subway trains careen,
the Jerome Avenue El
shudders and shakes,
releasing a rain
of rusted flakes on the roof
of Heinach’s news stand;
a reward for a Vet,
who rode alongside rough-riders
with Teddy Roosevelt.

From dawn to dusk,
seven days a week,
he swelters or freezes,
hawking newspapers
for a nickel or a dime
in a dark, dank hovel
as small as an ice fisherman’s hut.

With a slop pail for a toilet
and a smoky kerosene stove,
his cavernous abode stinks
of piss and garlic
from salami and pickles, all he eats,
except for chicken soup,
a bottle of schnapps and challah
his Goldie brings on Friday night.

When papers are delivered
he emerges from his shack
with a baseball bat
to fend off Hooligans
trying to steal his gazettes.

His only son inherits the stand
and becomes a connoisseur of coins,
trading with Stacks’s numismatics.
He earns more than enough
to live in a high-rise in Riverdale
with a spectacular view of the river.