“Red Hook: December” by George Oppen (1908-1984):
We had not expected it, the whole street
Lit with the red blue, green
And yellow of the Christmas lights
In the windows shining and blinking
Into distance down the cross streets.
The children are almost awed in the street
Putting out the trash paper
In the winking light. A man works
Patiently in his overcoat
With the little bulbs
Because the window is open
In December. The bells ring,
Ring electronically the New Year
Among the roofs
And one can be at peace
In this city on a shore
For the moment now
With wealth, the shining wealth.
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(From New Collected Poems © 1975 by George Oppen. Reprinted by permission of New Directions Publishing Corp. Also reprinted in Christmas Poems © 2008 New Directions Publishing Corp. Photo by Sam Howzit)