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.
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.