Wednesday, April 23, 2008

New York City Scenes

The Camera's Eye/The Poet's Eye


Sunlight bounces off the windows
of oncoming cars. I want to scream
driving to work, with a scratch of lipstick,
clutching my cold cash heart.
Behind me the total sum of existence;
a half-fed baby, yesterday’s dishes,
a nanny glued to daytime soaps.
This heat wave. Time is unrelenting;
time is broken by the folding of prams
in shopping malls, where I dream
of flying to Barbados. I’ve learnt
to add, subtract and multiply ingredients
they never taught in home economics.
Later, a slip of Prozac, and the chaos of dusk.
I face Manhattan with that sinking feeling,
another fall approaching.
My flabby rear cushioned,
my navel winking.

Michelle Cahill

I am alone here in New York, no longer a we.
Elizabeth Hardwick

Oh, silver tree!
Oh, shining rivers of the soul!

In a Harlem cabaret
Six long-headed jazzers play.
A dancing girl whose eyes are bold
Lifts high a dress of silken gold.

Oh, singing tree!
Oh, shining rivers of the soul!

Were Eve's eyes
In the first garden
Just a bit too bold?
Was Cleopatra gorgeous
In a gown of gold?

Oh, shining tree!
Oh, silver rivers of the soul!

In a whirling cabaret
Six long-headed jazzers play.

Langston Hughes
That ain't tip-toe-ing
Jawin' before
Your gig guts have to be attuned
Oiled, if you will,
Gin, bourbon, scotch,
an Up and Down--
Ding Dong?
in a past long gone
in a world long gone
in your ears, yeah,
but still long gone,
the echoing of that long gone
in your ears
Aligning with your memories
Bringin' up the testimonies,
and you hear them--
"Lady Be Good"--
and you start to
You swing
Can you swing?
Lady, you can swing,
and, girl, you can swing,
and, girl, you can
Put your swing
in my backyard
Any day,
Lady Day,
and that stream's
Still running
Under everything:
Blues upon blues
Upon waves
and pomps
and processes
and brushing off the suits
and splashin' on the floo-floo
and the sun's gone for
Another night and day
and the sun's
Gone for another knight
and the sun's always gonna go
Anyway, so
Ding Dong?

Little Selmer Blower

MANHATTAN’S streets I saunter’d, pondering,
On time, space, reality—on such as these, and abreast with them, prudence.

After all, the last explanation remains to be made about prudence;
Little and large alike drop quietly aside from the prudence that suits immortality.

The Soul is of itself;
All verges to it—all has reference to what ensues;
All that a person does, says, thinks, is of consequence;
Not a move can a man or woman make, that affects him or her in a day, month,
any part of the direct life-time, or the hour of death, but the same affects
him or her onward afterward through the
indirect life-time.

The indirect is just as much as the direct,
The spirit receives from the body just as much as it gives to the body, if not more.

Not one word or deed—not venereal sore, discoloration, privacy of the onanist,
putridity of gluttons or rum-drinkers, peculation, cunning, betrayal, murder,
seduction, prostitution, but has
results beyond death, as really as before death.

All photographs on this post, with the exception of the vintage photo of Prez standing up on a Harlem sidewalk, were by thegrowlingwolf

The Daily Growler


Marybeth said...

You just moved me to tears, with the Walt Whitman poem. I just lost a beautiful friend, a 27 year old Hindu boy, owner of my favorite Indian restaurant, who fed me all the Indian food I could eat in exchange for tutoring his girlfriend in Chemistry, so I ate there every day for years, and learned his whole life story, became his best friend, his confidant, and helped him with all his innocent young foolhardy escapades "Marybeth I'm in trouble, you have to help me, Uncle can't know". In trouble with a DUI, in trouble with the car being towed and impounded, in trouble with the family trying to break up his relationship with the girlfriend, sneaking her into his uncles' house at night, etc, etc.

He drank himself to death. Died of multiple organ failure due to acute alcoholism, both kidneys, liver and lungs. Good God. And I watched the whole fucking thing, helplessly. "That stuffs gonna kill you" I'd say jocularly. He knew it too, but couldn't stop. I was his best friend but I wasn't good enough. I wasn't good enough to save him from a miserable alcoholic death. Seeing his 27 year old body in the coffin, the day before yesterday, just about killed me.

Prudence. Yes.

Thanks for the uncannily timely post and the photos of my homeland.


Language said...

Great photos and some nice poetry. Thanks for the NYC flashback!