wool knickers with the sewn-in pleats,
and floppy grosgrain ribbon ties.
The Coney Island crowd of boys
liked him though: his dirty jokes,
he let his mother dress him up,
then watched her face go purple-red
screaming down the tenement walls
to all the ragged neighbor boys
who called him out to stickball games.
His name is Irving! she would shout
to my father and his gang below.
It's Irving! You dirty indigents!
You impecunious gutter rats!
No one screamed as gloriously:
How dare you beggars call him Schmutz!