-for Keith Hufnagel
When I asked my brother
how far a walk it was from Mulberry
to 98 Orchard Street, he said,
"It’s one bunion and two corns away."
Hiding hurt with jokes is how he copes,
but I saw through his bushy bearded laugh,
and expensive Italian shoes. Me in my 1960s
Mary Janes came prepared
to do a Mr. Rogers switch on the way,
but that kind of pain never came. We
were en-route to see Keith,
and not see him at the same time,
dulling the usual splendor and chaos
of the Lower East Side. We walked
by a protestor preaching on Delancey,
guitarists, and squatters
all doing their thing, sitting next
to their signs, but the only messages
we could see were in curbs, ledges,
and traffic cones that once caught
his pop and style.
At every corner time ticked back
a click to when Manhattan
was his and theirs, a hum of bees
pushing through rush-hour streets,
making Lafayette Supreme back in 1995.
I was still wearing my Mary Janes
when we reached Orchard.
A crop of old familiar faces
greeted us, some sitting
on their boards,
others taking photos with Keith
who was smiling hanging on the gallery wall.
"This is the first time one of our friends
died of an illness and not drugs,"
Jones said, "we’re all getting on."
Nancy Byrne Iannucci is the author of Temptation of Wood (Nixes Mate Review 2018) and Goblin Fruit (Impspired, September 2021). Her poems have appeared or are forthcoming in a number of publications including Gargoyle, Ghost City Press, Clementine Unbound, Dodging the Rain, Three Drops from a Cauldron, 8 Poems, Glass: A Journal of Poetry (Poets Resist), Hobo Camp Review, and Typehouse Literary Magazine. Nancy is a Long Island, NY native who now resides in Troy, NY where she teaches history at the Emma Willard School.