Clouds and Trees

"Nothing ever goes away enough or arrives enough,/ and I want to cry when I think of my heart,/ muscle pounding in muscle, greedy always for joy." – 'A Warning', Eric Anderson

Category: New York

Conversation about Perspective

“Manhattan is great, sure, but like anything
you have to get the right perspective.
You have to see it from a distance,
so that it starts to look inanimate.
Like something totally vibrant and virile
that died suddenly. An ant colony calcified,
or someone wearing incredibly tight pants
hit by a car, frozen in mid air.
Like waves on the ocean
which look like clouds from high above.
What I’m trying to say is, with enough activity
and distance, there is stillness. And so the universe
is a photograph developing. That is why
I am climbing this building,”
King Kong said to the fighter pilot.
Though from the pilot’s perspective
it sounded more like,
“mmgRRAARRad…whiiRRAARssoo,”
and thus was lost in translation.

Suits

The average New York City
subway rat lives about 80 years
fortified by potato grease
and vigorous exercise.

Because of this, they develop
robust internal culture.

Each withstands a profusion
of menial, violent, and beautiful
daily impulses driven by endless,
repetitive, personal history.

Rats are as often killed by the subway,
as by their jobs, or by disease,
though it can be difficult to tell.

Some are captivated by shallow puddles
in which they drown themselves
whilst staring at the moon and just beginning
to grasp the meaning of a metaphor.

On the Steps Ahead

1.

Tchaikovsky, like this other side
of lostness, is incomplete again.
I lean into violin on the train

To hear it absolutely. I want
to make purpose of, complete,
ugliness. My era. I see beauty

if I crane my neck enough
somewhere back there in the rain.
Violin Concerto in D, Op. 35, I know

is behind the mis-colored sky.
I hear it pushing subway cars.
Spilling out as umbrellas open.

2.

I have been living under skyline.
In the negative space. The only place
For pieces of you, Tchaikovsky,

a leaf caught on the raincoated
concrete step. The life we have yet
To live. In windows, wall-less

if I could paint them, if I had paint-
buckets of rain and you
over and over again, every step

ever upwards. When I carry you
I am together with my discomfort.
I am walking so close beneath beauty.

Windows

The ceiling was perfectly flat. The corners exact, no paint misplaced. Nothing wrong. He rolled his head to the left. Underneath the fridge there were silhouettes of dirt, balls of dust, lost food. Maybe the floor. What had it been? When he was standing there a moment before something had been off. He had gotten to his knees and rubbed his thumb against the floor tile. That hadn’t helped. He had remembered the technique his mother had taught him for finding small things; he pressed his cheek against the cold white tile and still, nothing seemed wrong. He was glad he had laid down.

“Where are you?” Her voice came out of the bedroom. There was some kind of shuffling, she must be getting dressed. “Someone called you.”

He leaned his head back. He could see the sky even though the window shade was mostly down. It looked warm and blue but he knew it would be freezing. She walked through the door zipping up the side of her dress. “Where are you?”

“Who called?”

“Jesus Christ,” Her face seemed to burst then almost instantly close; lines formed in between her eyebrows. “What the hell are you doing?”

“Did you pick it up or did it go to voicemail?”

She shook her head, “I don’t know, I didn’t see.”

He nodded. “There’s something weird about the kitchen. Are you going out?”

“I’m going to Midtown. Are you just going to stay there? I need to get something.”

He shuffled to the side and she stepped over him. As she reached up and began rifling through the cabinet her heels lifted off the floor, the veins in her ankles visible and thick through the skin. He almost reached out and grabbed them.

“Here we go.” She stepped down and walked into the bathroom, not bothering to turn the light on. He could hear the water running. He took a deep breath and sighed loudly.

She came out of the bathroom and stood over him. “I’m going down to Midtown, is there anything you need? There’s your phone again.” It was buzzing in the bedroom. She handed it to him.

“Okay, I’m going, you don’t need anything?” He shook his head, holding the buzzing phone. “I’ll probably be back in a couple of hours, give me a call if you think of anything.”

The door closed.

He laid there for a minute. The phone was still buzzing. He had been clasping it over his chest. After awhile it stopped. He put it down on the tile next to the fridge.

He brought up his knees and groaned. Most of his backside had fallen asleep. He used the counter to pull himself up. He stood there for a second, getting his bearings. The room was worse now than it had been earlier. It was tilted, as if he had just been dizzy. He went over to the window. The streets outside looked as if they slanted strangely away. A familiar flock of pigeons flew by. They dipped by the window in the exact same way at least once every day. He always caught it out of the corner of his eye. They never changed. The same flock, the same swoop. He rapped his fingertips on the glass, bitten fingernails making an unsatisfying thumping sound. There were millions of windows in New York City. More windows than there were people. Most windows must not be seen at all. Might as well just be walls.

Around the Bend

Monday, I ride my bike South
Beside the Hudson; it smells salty
And of the sea unexpectedly.

I face this new tower for an hour.
Make it into a dream. Forget
About the hole in the ground.

Bicycling over the Brooklyn Bridge
It’s all wires, wires, and history,
And fear of every kind of falling.