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George Drew

Crocket in Babylon

The Hanging Gardens are gone,

and for the horse and buggy corps

business is bad: one fare per day

instead of the normal ten or more.

And sure enough, prophets

outside the great gate prophesy

the fall of the sacred tower

and in its smoke and rubble

legions of feet with toes fused

and blackened arms and legs

over which wild dogs and rats fight

until people and pigeons flee,

even the crazy scat of taxi horns

diminishing to discrete beeps.

Expect the worst, he was told,

and for thirty blocks walks south

down one avenue after another

humming blues so blue

even Robert Johnsonís funky tunes

are veritable odes to joy.

And when a man storming out

of a bagel shop on Broadway bumps

into him, "Death to Nebuchadnezzar,"

the man shouts in a strange tongue.

And ashes settle over everything.

And lions and dragons slink away.

George Drew was born in Mississippi and raised there and in New York, where he currently resides. His work has appeared in journals such as Antioch Review, Beloit Poetry Journal, Cimarron Review, Hollins Critic, Maine Times, Mississippi Review, The Quarterly, Quarterly West, Salmagundi, Southern Poetry Review, Vermont Literary Review, and many others. Toads in a Poisoned Tank, his first book, was published in 1986, and a chapbook, So Many Bones (Poems of Russia), in 1997 by a Russian press, in a bilingual edition. He is the recipient of the 2003 Paumanok Poetry Award.

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