What Passes for Optimism at MacArthur Park

Beside the concrete pond, small children fish
for nothing. This is all it costs to wish:
a yard of yarn, a crooked stick. They cast
their paper cups as if they might outlast
hunger, as if a minnow might appear
from muck and shoes and empty cans of beer.
We watch them scoop up all the trash that floats.
We watch the lovers on their paddle boats
like swans, like swans! the little children holler.
We have our picture taken for a dollar.
And on the gravel path the pigeons scatter
for crumbs, their tiny feet a kind of chatter
so empty and so full of soft demands
that everyone, not listening, understands.

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