Not pouting or projecting like the denizens
of Warhol’s demimonde, but nearly as strange
and each as various:
the barista at The Iroquois throwing her mane
who is also an actress (not surprisingly),
who says she knows Pacino’s Shylock intimately
but can’t wait to see Tron
or some other gadget laden film
on the small screen of her I-Pad.
Thanks too to the French couple
eating their pommes frites with mayonnaise
and the shared burger with a knife and fork
at the Two Guys not far from the Met
on Madison, not to mention the out-of-towner
at the Red Flame who wanted matzo ball soup
explained in Spanish. And the Russian waiter
doing his best and the Filipino-born Australians
photographing the biggest breakfast
they had ever seen. Get used to it—
this is the America of difference
and same, people laughing and crying at once
when Shylock tells Portia his name.
Michael Salcman is a physician and teacher of art history. He was chairman of neurosurgery at the University of Maryland and president of the Contemporary Museum in Baltimore.
He is the author of two collections: The Clock Made of Confetti (Orchises), nominated for The Poet’s Prize, and The Enemy of Good Is Better (Orchises, 2011), and his anthology of classic and contemporary poems on doctors and diseases is forthcoming.
Recent poems appear in Alaska Quarterly Review, Hopkins Review, New Letters, Notre Dame Review, Ontario Review, and New York Quarterly.