Tiger Cages

By Wendy Galgan

His jacket calls him “Smith.”

He sits atop his tiger cage

on East 77th Street,

poncho spread to trap subway’s fetid warmth.

Clean, worn fatigues

tucked into sprung combat boots.

Whiskey roughened voice,

shaggy hair, strong hands.


“Mornin’, little sister,” he says.

He refuses my money,

takes a ham sandwich and coffee.

“Workin’?” he asks,

head tilted against sunlight.

“Workin’,” I say.


“Charlie’s in the tunnel, little sister.

Watch your ass.”

A long, slow wink before he turns.

“You, too.”

I touch his shoulder,

move away.


Wendy Galgan is Assistant Professor of English at St.Francis College in Brooklyn.  Her poetry has appeared in print journals such as California Quarterly and The AFCU Journal and on the website On Earth As It Is.  Her poem “Burning Angels: March 25, 2011” is in the anthology Villanelles (edited by Annie Finch and Marie-Elizabeth Mali).  She is editor of Assisi: An Online Journal of Arts & Letters and Director of SFC’s Women’s Poetry Initiative.

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