Sunday afternoons they break out cigars
After mass to kill the dark smell of sweat
That clings to the faces of men playing
The shell game, smoke swirling from their nostrils,
Rope-scarred hands imploring you to take yours
Out of your pockets for an offering.
Shrunken old ladies armed with little girls
Pull green palm branches out of the garbage,
Wrap them in stale news and sell them for luck
To guilt-drenched browsers and lottery fans.
Up the twisted lane ragged parakeets
Squawk for freedom from this human madness
While women drown them out with hot gossip
Made delicious by holy communion.