Archive for the ‘New York City’ category

Remembered Bargain

July 16, 2016

Remembered Bargain

I promised with all my soul
that if I found her whole
I would never rail again,
never again complain
about any personal injustice.

Greenwich Street bore witness
to my brain’s barter with what
always seems to hover “up”
in a wade through desperation
where, as down a well, any gradation
of light is a second coming,
the next second, coming.

I found her and
wept thanks.

But mind moves on and it will rail–
a track-bound train, a wind-ruled sail,
its promises shrugged out of like a shawl
(forgotten on a chair
somewhere over there)
until some switch in inner film’s unroll

takes me to those blurred bricks, veered eaves
where my mind, on its knees, said “please,”
and I say again, thank you
for then and now and then to come too;
though derailed by weaknesses, and by strengths,
I whisper thanks.

 

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A sort of drafty poem for my own prompt on Real Toads about exchanges, barters, promises, markets.  The pic above is of the 9/11 Memorial, also on Greenwich Street in downtown Manhattan. 

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On a lighter note, I am very pleased to report that my new book DOGSPELL or Sally & Seemore & the Meaning of Mushki is out!  It is a sweet (I think) children’s novel, written (with some help from my dear departed Pearl) and much illustrated by me.  Great for any dog lover. Available on Amazon.  When at Amazon, check out my other books!  1 Mississippi, Going on Somewhere, Nose Dive, and Nice.  

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Draft (NYC)

November 20, 2015

Draft (NYC)

I think as I walk through midtown Manhattan that I should email you my manuscripts
just in case I get shot or blown up tomorrow.

Shoulders filter the night; I weave slightly (in part because of thick black shoes meant to roll worn feet
into a next step)
even as I pass a guy whose face shows the shadowed hollows of someplace south or east of the Mediterranean, depicted in the news lately as scary hollows–

yet, I feel pretty sure that if I should stumble he would catch me by the arm–

a little behind him, two policeman (each of different ethnicity) and half a block behind–these being tense times– two more–

but also because the sidewalk’s really uneven here, slabbed.

Still, I stick with the cracks, having seen a rat on the smoother path I was about to turn down, a curve through the Park (supposedly safe now
in the dark)–

I want to digress here into a story about a pregnant raccoon in this same Park, how I happened onto her one bright day and, in yesterday’s dim, her silhouette, possibly–but it is too long a story for this piece–even though there is something somehow endearing
about a city that harbors pregnant raccoons in its parks (they get rabies shots) despite
the rats–

this city where also hang Matisses blue as sky or sea dancing
and where in the high glass ahead float paned wedges of reflected neon, blue
as a Matisse.

I feel rather sorry for you trying to figure out what to do with the manuscripts–

me who did not myself give them time, yet who still wants them saved,
who wants them (so much) to walk about in the best way manuscripts can, that is, holding
someone’s hand, in the way a book might hold mine now,
but for the night,
holding that person’s hand through street and room, through comfy chair
and scary hollow, showing that person (if desired)
the silhouettes of pregnant raccoons–and more–a woman
weaving–
the only need
wedges of light–really, any color
will do–

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A very odd draft poem for Corey Rowley’s prompt on With Real Toads about the hearts desire(right this minute.) 

The pic was actually taken by me a few weeks ago, showing light shows that were done before the NYC Marathon–not the neon squares of glass I write of, but cool pics, I thought.  All rights reserved. 

To Jeb Bush Who Says We Were Kept Safe (from a New Yorker)

September 22, 2015

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To Jeb Bush Who Says We Were Kept Safe (From a New Yorker)

I did not feel it.  Not even as I shut
the windows tight, rolling towels into the gutted
frames, could I escape the smell, the pall
that slithered through the towels, the foul
breath of burning plastic, exhalation of steel
and swivel chair, melt of carpeting, and, against our skin, the feel
of flesh made smoke, ash griming the reflection
of all those posters, pleas for resurrection
headlined “Missing,” as if a person known
to have worked in the South Tower had just gone
for a walk, amnesiac or spree–
Don’t get me wrong–I could not breathe–
but I’ve earned
no right to complain–I was not burned
by a fire ball–

Not even when off the buses
they jogged, assault rifles shouldered without fuss
onto Canal, their camo so uncamo
in a city that wears black, their ammo
rounding chests already plaqued with bullet-
proof vests, faces young as pullets–
the few whiskers, crescent brows, strands
of feather post-pluck–not even as they ran
down the subway stairs in a continuous
booted line, uniforms pleating sinuously
about ridged belts, bulked thighs,
and I, stopping one GI, asked why,
are you here
?
and she replied, muzzle a diagonal to bunned hair,
to keep you safe–

Nope.  Not then.  Not that whole year
nor some years more–not, certainly, in the grand export of fear–
new carpetings of fire balls, new reasons
for retribution–no, not in that season
nor in the heft of its poisonous web,
dear Jeb, did we feel
kept safe–

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A bit of a discursive rant here to Jeb Bush, running for the U.S. presidency, who, discussing his brother’s presidency in the recent GOP debated declared that “he kept us safe.”  I am not sure any president can avoid attacks and conflict, homegrown or brought from abroad, but Jeb’s comment seemed particularly disingenuous.   (I’m also not sure of those last two lines–whether I should simply write “we were not kept safe,” instead of alluding to how we felt, but am somehow a little too superstitious to write it like that.  This process note has been edited since Rosemary’s comment below.) The photo is one of mine–all rights reserved. 

Am posting to Real Toads Open Platform.  Check out the wonderful poets there. 

 

 

Giving Thanks (on Train)

June 17, 2015

Giving Thanks (on train)

What has been a day thick
with humidity
blossoms mist
over the Hudson.

Oh, father, why did I never thank you
for the incidental
kindnesses?

I do not write here of God–
at least, not mainly, of God, I add,
as I look back out the window
where an archetypal depiction of heaven
halos hills, a godhead’s parting
of cloud by sun over water.

How long he would wait
to drive me home–after school, after
rehearsals–all that seemed
so important–me, who could not stand
to wait–

Do I think of this because the river shines
like a windshield swept by night,
because the train drums the tracks
with the rhythms
of tires’ turn,
or, because the sky, so big at heart,
asks so little of me?

Do it now–give
thanks–and often.
Do it knowing
that the oncoming
has already passed, that in
the endless revolution of then,
no amount of clackety
can take you back.

Do it for the mist
and the missed
and in the midst of all
that you will not
then miss,
you with your eyes
full of sun
and cloud
and water.

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Though much revised, this is still very much a draft poem for Real Toads open platform, hosted by the wonderful Kerry O’Connor–

The pics are in fact from my train ride (Metro North) along the Hudson yesterday evening. 

Forgetting/Letting Go

February 4, 2015

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Forgetting/Letting go

Before letting go,
forego letting be–

at least for me,
that’s how it had
to be.

I needed to knead
what had gone
before–
I could not let it alone,
alone.

Forlorn, I foraged for a lore, some tale
that I could wag,
some tale that would make me
a teller (taller),
a wagger (wage-earner)
a mover and shaker
and not
the moved-out, shaken–

I told this tale
as my own bedtime story,
until I just didn’t
anymore,
until–it seems to me now–
I arched my neck back
and saw through the window at my bed’s head,
all those shines
the glass reflected, genuflecting
to the laws
of perspective,
bright rounds that outglowed the moon, though but
the disks of desk lamp no bigger
than my fist–
mere street lights,
red, green, white–
no bigger than
my head but seeming more monumental
than even dwarf stars–

and as my eyes noosed
those outsized glares, some grip loosened
in my brain–

Of course, it helped
that you also lay beside me
your skin too glowing,
but not glass.

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Another drafty poem.  (People make fun of my term, but when something is fresh off the brain press with relatively little re-writing, the word “draft” feels right to me.)   This one owes a debt to the wonderful writer, Kerry O’Connor, who posts at Skywriting and Skylover, for a poem she has called “Gotta Go” in which she talks about the difficulties of forgetting letting go. ”

The pictures are from NYC, taken the other night.  In both cases, the moon is the smaller orb in the top left.

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Jane (From Primer Days) Thinking about Events in Staten Island, December 2014

December 6, 2014

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Jane (From Primer Days) Thinking about Events in Staten Island, December 2014

Hi. I’m Jane as in Dick-and.
And I’m a wreck.

Even though the curbs of my world are perfectly
squared off and all my streets have just the right
amount of shade.

This is because the trees here manage always
to maintain
the optimal height for a nice new subdivision–not too tall but also not
too small–sort of like
Goldilock’s porridge, only
with leaves.

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Sometimes, a cat scrambles up one–such fun–
and Mother, who wears high heels
with her apron, calls
the fire department or, if the firemen can’t come,
the police.

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The police, who wear blue jackets with yellow
buttons, always have time
for cats, and if you ever somehow stray
in your play, hopscotch
a square too far,
they walk you back
below those just-right trees,
sometimes touching your hand
but never more than–

Unless you are lost with your baby sister,
in which case, the policeman carries her and showing,
just over the crook
of his dark blue arm, are ruffles.

Even with the ruffles, it’s a world
that’s flat–
pretend pressed onto
a pre-Columbus
page–we, its only
natives.

Yes, I know, some people leaf through
my old world and think it was not
pretend,
because our pages showed stuff like
red balls that are real enough–
the red balls that only Dick tossed, caught, lost–
(Me, I never got to toss
a Dick-lost ball.)

There was also our hard cover,
yellow and blue, just like
our hair/eyes, the policeman’s
buttons,
sky.

But oh, you’ve got to know–
we were pressed
so flat in here–I’ve made myself
as flat as they come
and believe me–that is not a kind of flatness
that comes just from holding
my breath.

Speaking of which–breath, I mean.
You know, breathing–

I mean, here I am speaking–speaking
of which–
and yet I can’t, you know,
breathe.

Because when you are pressed flat, see,
that’s what happens.

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Here’s a drafty poem of sorts for Shay/Fireblossom’s prompt on With Real Toads so write a “mash-up” poem putting some character/ historic figure in an unusual context. I had a hard time thinking of what to write; my mind has been very taken up with the recent events in New York City concerning the death of Eric Garner, and I could not really think of anything else to write about.  That said, I really do not want to seem flippant about these very serious events.  I sincerely hope this doesn’t come across that way. The illustrations are mine, in pencil–so sorry that the erasures show!   

Process Note–Primer here is pronounced “primmer” and is a word for a primary level text-book.  For those who don’t know or remember, the Dick and Jane books were primer reading books, popular in the 50’s and 60’s.  

For those of you who are outside the U.S., or haven’t been following the Garner case within the U.S., here’s a timeline of events around the case, with links to articles–timeline

Avant Garde (NYC – 80s)

June 28, 2014

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Avant Garde (NYC – 80’s)

When I was young,
it meant rolling around on canvas,
nude,
and those floaters that tagged your eyes
in the turn of taillights, nights,
and yes, people dabbling
at heroin (just to say they had),
in the rent-stabilized apartments we’d
snagged
(that girl who dragged the plaster
off one wall, the exposed brick looking
so hip–)
everyone loving Burroughs,
daring
vasoline–

Then came death
everywhere–
the violet of a cancer
that should have been rare,
germs that should not
have seeded pneumonia,
and what had shone and buzzed and
danced, like the sparklers
children wave, trying for the letters of
their names
before the glitter goes,
seeped into a search
for t-cells–
and the streets were darker
than purple
and cold poured through
those bricks
as we rubbed our hands over our arms,
all of us,
no matter how many layers
we wore.

 

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Here’s a drafty poem for Kerry O’Connor’s not-at-all-a-prompt on With Real Toads on the avant garde–I’m afraid I took a very uncreative route–but I have been thinking a great deal lately about the 80’s and the onset of the AIDS epidemic. (In case anyone is confused, I’ve never used heroin!)   The pic not exactly right–but what I have.  Thanks.  

 

IF YOU ARE INTERESTED ONLY!!!!!!! I am posting another version of the poem that I had decided got just too long and was too defensive, in that I seemed to be trying to justify the artistic aspects of the time.  But for anyone interested here is the longer version.  The poem is not really meant to focus on the gay community–though some of the artists that came to mind were gay. But the artists I am referring to below are Julian Schnabel, Robert Mapplethorpe, Jean-Michel Basquiat, and Keith Herring, as well as William Burroughs.  

 

Avant Garde  (80’s- NYC)

When I was young,
it meant, yes, rolling around on canvas, nude;
yes, a Jesus of broken crockery,
yes, a pissed-off cross,
and yes, people dabbling
at heroin,
there in the rent-stabilized apartments
we’d snagged, there
where that girl dragged
the plaster off one wall, (just opposite the bathtub
in the kitchen) the exposed brick looking
so hip–
everyone loving Burroughs,
daring
vasoline–

But it also meant
the floaters that tagged your eyes
in the turns of tailights, nights–for you too
were part of the canvas–
the astonishment of crowns
along the way, the scrawls of Samo, Herring’s babies
crawling the streets,
the twist of hair
danced with
abandon, the chance of legs black-lavendered,
the swooping blur
of the free, the short breaths
of the new, the excitement of the
important–

And then came death
everywhere–
a violet cancer
that should have been rare,
germs that should not
have seeded pneumonia,
and what had shone with the embered swoops
of those sparklers
children stroke across the night
spelling their names before the
glitter goes
drained into a search
for t-cells, and the streets were darker
than purple,
and cold poured through
those exposed bricks,
and we rubbed our hands over our arms,
shivering,
no matter how many layers
we wore.

 

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