Friday, December 24, 2010

downtown

by arnold schnabel

illustrations by rhoda penmarq



This somewhat disquieting sonnet first appeared in Arnold Schnabel's Philadelphia neighborhood weekly The Olney Times of April 27, 1963, not too long after his release from a three-month stay at the notorious Philadelphia State Mental Hospital at Byberry. The streets mentioned are in downtown Philadelphia, as was Leary's Book Store.

-- Dan Leo, author of Arnold Schnabel: A Reader's Guide; Assistant Professor of Classics and Phys. Ed., Olney Community College.


"Downtown"


I don’t want to go downtown any more;
I want never again to open that door.



Chancellor Street, 13th Street, St. James Place:
Cocktails and chatter; despair and disgrace.




I wander through Leary's, fumbling through books,
And then through the stamp store, happy as a child;



At Horn & Hardart’s I avoid those idle looks,
But somehow I still hear the call of the wild:



It’s always just one beer, or one Manhattan,
Or so I say, as I approach that certain pub;



But once I sit down all else is forgotten,
As though I’d been struck on the head with a club.



I don’t want ever again to open that door;
I don’t want to go downtown any more.







7 comments:

human being said...

amazing!
I didn't know much about these places... but in a few words the location is pictured... and also the battle that is taking place... within...
and the resolution that is implied is cleverly rendered...

the image of door makes this poem so symbolic...

loved it... a lot!

Dan Leo said...

Aw, thanks, Human! From me and Arnold and Rhoda...

rhoda said...

yes, glad you liked it... if you can't wait for more illustrated poems from arnold, the straight stuff can be found at http://danleo.blogspot.com/

human being said...

merci beaucoup, mon ami...

i found the poems but they were not illustrated like this one here...
well... i'll wait to read them here... with your fabulous illustrations...

kathleenmaher said...

Who but rhoda and Arnold would better know true Joy?

Old 333 said...

Neat! A really good one. Just yesterday, I caught the end of a Blake Edwards flick in which the struggle with the flashing bar-sign was depicted most agonizing - your poem came very apropos and filled in a thought or two it started - thanks.
And I hope everyone had a good Christmas! And is warm and well and fed and looking ahead. Off I go - night all -
PG

Dan Leo said...

Peter -- "The Days of Wine and Roses"? Great movie. From that last great wave of "serious" black-and-white movies in the early 60s. After 1965 or so it was pretty much all color movies all the time except for the occasional auteurist oddity -- and movies lost something...

Hope you had a good Christmas!