this one will be in an upcoming issue of Re)Verb.
typical new york poem
i have been in new york too long now
and all i can write is the new york poem,
warm and artificial, suffocating, sun blocking,
claustrophobic, stuck-in-a-long-line, getting-on-the-wrong-train,
unexplainable to the rest of america
kind of poem.
the white people poem, the black people poem,
the hispanic people poem, the chinese poem,
the brooklyn poem, the bronx poem, the queens poem,
the diversity poem and all that other sensitive bullshit
that no one buys on the street anyway,
kind of poem.
if i were writing the sacramento poem
i’d mention the swamplands colored crimson in the sunlight,
the great split on i-80 that sends some east and some into
the insanity of capital city traffic,
old sacramento shining golden in dawn’s bloom, serenaded in
downtown traffic horns,
my neck still sore from craning it to catch
the last remnants of oakland and san francisco.
the lost bay poem.
if this were a psalm to salt lake city
i’d sing about the stench of the great salt lake misting in the horizon,
so dense and saline that nothing can survive in it.
i’d sing about barreling ninety miles an hour through the salt lake desert.
the hyundai rattling, its boosters bucking in the heat
the way it started doing back in california, back in the mojave desert,
or how ally’s arm hurt from the bird that dipped into it,
missing the windshield.
i’d wonder about the marxist we left sitting in a cheap bar,
and the bartender in his new era hat with manhattan splattered
across the front,
who wanted me to sing a new york poem.
and if this were a denver poem,
well, i’d have to mention standing on larimer street
crying over neal cassady, wouldn’t i?
or the pink neon lights of el chapultepec on market,
where we ate mexican food on paper plates,
slathered in green chili sauce, which ran all over the table,
and stuck up our hands,
as the jukebox kept playing booker t. songs
as we kept drinking one-dollar drafts of coors until we were bloodshot
as the old mexican drunks laughed and laughed and laughed
at the great nothingness of stupid joy.
if this were a kansas city poem, shit, the stuff i could say
about desolation on a sunday night.
if this were a saint louis poem, i’d moan over mark twain driftwood
floating in the mississippi river.
if this were a chicago poem, we’d wander north clark again
in search of the real blues, getting drunk, howling, knowing
we’d never find it.
and if this were a pittsburgh poem...well...
then i’d be home again.
if only for a little while.
but all i can write is the new york poem
the paranoid, hold-your-bag-tight poem
the fall of the roman empire on 42nd street poem.
the must-see-tv poem.
the late show poem.
the media conglomerate poem.
the sad, lonely musing poem that is surrounded by everyone
but still huddles under a warm steam grate poem.
the shouting silent on a loud subway poem.
the typical american dream poem.
the same poem that i’ve been writing since
i got back to new york
and began writing the new york poem.