Published on Academy of American Poets (https://poets.org)


Atlantic City Sunday Morning

                  Plow-piled snow shrouded 
         in shadow from the abbreviating sun, snow 
frosted with the exhaust of tour buses. Pigeons shift in congress. 
                  Sun glints windshields & chrome 
         like cotton blooms in the monitors. Surveillance here is catholic. 

From cornices cameras oscillate like raven-heads 
                  nestled along palisades. Cameras mind entrances,
                       pedestrians, traffic, 
          the landscape from land's end to Baccarat Boulevard. I tend
the security station, notice briefly among these half-dozen screens, 
                  a phantom looping through the busy breeze-way & out 

         of view. Unseasonable sparrows mating? Something 
clutched like a gambler's fist, keening a halo from daylight 
                  folded across the corridor like gift-wrap. 
        Little tumbleweed, if you are sparrows, you are bishops
of risk wrestling toward pain's bursaries. Jake and angel I believe 

                    I could have conjured that woman now entering 
          the asphalt current to protect you. Mira! she might be saying. But
she'd be speaking to me. Waving her cashier's apron against traffic,
                    through the street like a banner out to where 
          her good deed is witnessed. Out to where I interpret her behavior 

as censure. As if the pixels of light depicting the world she is framed in
                   were impastoed by me to the monitor's glass canvass (to
                        be arranged 
         according to the obligation of my anonymous nobility), 
what good could I do 
                  to alter the facts of the world as it hustles around her? 
                       What odds 

         do those birds stand to chance anyway? 
Prevention is akin to greed. Say recovery 
                   and a sermon salts the air. Consider the postcards here 
         on the counter beside me. They'll do no more than carry the
             word of their 
senders, speak pictures: Jersey's domed capital looks like a junkyard 

                   of church bells, a reliquary of Sundays 
          wracked and laid to rest. Noble martyr, Trenton fears no law
of diminishing returns, says it "makes, 
                   the world takes:" Another prays the next wet pebble 
         be the one that makes a beach. Paydirt. We should be so lucky. 

Credit


From Totem, published by the American Poetry Review. Copyright © 2007 by Gregory Pardlo. Used with permission.

Author


Gregory Pardlo

Gregory Pardlo's second poetry collection, Digest (Four Way Books, 2014), received the 2015 Pulitzer Prize in Poetry and was shortlisted for the​ 2015 NAACP Image Award.

Date Published: 2007-01-01

Source URL: https://poets.org/poem/atlantic-city-sunday-morning