Ate -ba-na-na-too-dah-lah

by Stephen Cramer

This is the liquid mantra that the woman
in the bespangled mumu repeats every three & a half

breaths, practically singing while suit after suit passes
her by on the way to the night’s accumulation

of faxes & the bottomless Kcup. Her voice, tossed
into the uptown breeze, pools for a moment on the ate

before letting itself tumble into the roiling rapids
of bananatoodahlah, the syllables floating so

buoyantly on top of all the city’s offerings the passing subwoofer’s thunder, the prehistoric groan of air brakes

like a pebble on a stormtossed wave, & I sing it
to myself, then I sing it out loud, & it’s a full

two blocks later before the words unknot themselves
& reform into: eight bananas, two dollars.

For a moment I’m let down that this morning’s mantra
had really just been a commercial, so I tune

the meaning out & turn the sounds back into
the benediction that they seem to want to be,

& they rise into the sky & say it’ll all be okay
to those in rags & those in suits, those who understand

what people are trying to tell them, & those
who get things all wrong, & they fall over the city

like a blanket of soot & diamonds.