where the writers are
Poetry and the City

When first I moved to the city I knew I'd relish life boxed inside those walls. I knew that poems would come and that life would be lived with intensity. I knew so much of what would happen but so little of the particulars.

One can imagine at the sea that the waves will be wet and that the sky will be open. One can imagine the moods will fluctuate. However, to set camp on the beach one learns the depths of tides, the caps of the waves and the pull of the moon as it can change comfort, change a night's sleep and reduce a shelter to a suggestion more than a haven. So it can be with anything, and surely how it can be with New York.

Set yourself on its shore and expect to be pushed and pulled along with its histories, its fortunes and its myriad expression of extreme interaction. This place is a zoo. I wrote that while writing Electric Bathtub Psalms. I felt it and I often still do. Jungles are becoming zoos, preserves is what we call them, but their function is much the same. What a zoo can teach the visitor is limited. To truly learn one must live inside, so live inside I did. 

To set up camp on the shores of civilization one must be willing to get wet, to feel rain, to curse and then pray for wind, for sun, for night and for all that is experience at the fringe of something that pulses. Our natural world has disappeared. Any attempt to recover it is good and timely, but that was not my focus when I wrote that series of poems.

My interest and my deeply introverted experience was one of setting camp on a new beach, on a technological and cultural shore where deals are brokered and financial winds release torrents and waves of unemployed litter on a shore. When I imagine all that I learned by my style and place of living I understand the metaphor of hives, of packs, of blatant individualism and of groups that horde and share amongst themselves. I understand my natural revulsion at healthcare taxes and babies inventoried and numbered with increasing efficiency.

One day they'll say "that, that was New York...back then" an ancient city, a lost city, a swamp in the future or maybe an ice cap. And when they dig up the steel of its bones and use compressed sneakers to make countertops for their kitchens, somewhere someone will admit that even there, they always had poets, and despite the indignities of translation, the myths will live on.

 And for that, I woke up and felt the need to blog. 

 an excerpt from Electric Bathtub Psalms

i am blind 
without you 
there are no trees 
the wind is silent 
i am witness 
to the passing 
of leaves to snow 
heavy steps of tourists 
looking up to the 
buildings where we've lived 
this home is a zoo 
the animals inside 
are me and you. 
they're coming they're coming 
we applaud the invasion 
of the occupying force 
they are bringing wealth 
with their lumbering ways 
building us up as they take in our poverty 
which is our wealth 
they are sloths 
who like meat 
picking at their teeth 
and spitting out carcasses 
onto the street 
that is buckling 
track shoes squeak and squawk 
mimic of that which has fallen 
and that which is eaten. 


he said again
he was once more
a saviour's smile
a simple gleam
as the winter frieze
toppled in notes of blue
all of it recorded
by me