Mounted Kalmucks on Shackamaxon Street

I’m thinking of the mounted Kalmucks
on Shackamaxon Street, how in the world
they got here, Stalin’s bodyguards, despised by him.
By here I mean Fishtown, where defunct
Domino Sugar coughs up syrup into the Delaware,
the old treaty park, wedged between ports,
the north one full of Latin grapes, the south
with its rusted cranes and pier-front courts and condos.
Its pleasure dome for bad-backed longshoremen
with mangled knees and missing digits.
I’m thinking of that one old Kalmuck.

Everyone mistakes him for a Chinaman.
He’s mounted on his pony, too small to tug
a produce cart through streets and alleys of Harrowgate
and Fishtown–chicken squawk and pigeons, scrap heap
and gabardine hawk. Absorbing the shock
of railroad shunt, trolley track, pothole,
and buckled cobble, like a newly reconditioned strut.
He travels his fourfold path to the Lamaist Temple
on Second Street, where this may or may not be
the day he opts for the Buddha’s Great Renunciation Leonard Kress lived in and around Philadelphia for more than 35 years–Port Richmond, Fishtown, Harrowgate, Frankford, etc. Now he lives in the Great Black Swamp of Northwest Ohio. His latest collection of poetry is ORPHICS, from Kent St. U. Press.

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