Mornings begin, not with sun, but noise
Traffic screaming
the cock-a-doodle-doo of a million schoolkids
running to ten thousand cheders

The light bouncing off the buildings is deafening
so loud it echoes till the 2:30 p.m. morning prayers at 770
the streets are standing room only
the fish are still flapping at Raskin’s and
the wine bottles in the street are still vibrating from
the dancing that knocked them off the table

A two-hundred-year-old Hasid
and a four-hundred-year-old Jamaican grandmother
fight over the last fresh lemon
at the corner bodega,
threatening a new round of
Crown Heights riots

They both play by the same rules
which is to say,
no rules

The morning subways are at a standstill
and more people try to squeeze on
Black, Jewish, the poseurs in their beards
and non-prescription glasses
we are all together, all pushing, all enemies

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Which is to say
we are all on the same side
on the fundamental level of dread
of needing to get to work on time
we understand each other

Why would anybody choose this
life, this city, this reality
the love of a city that demands absolute obeisance
and gives you back screechy ashes

That’s not the question we ask ourselves
Boruch hashem, we’re here

The question we ask is,
how could anyone ever
do anything else


The B”hrooklyn shirt (and pun) was created by Adam Shapiro.