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Poetry



Claudia Serea

Myths flying low over the city
Saint Mark’s Place
Things to do

JBMulligan

New York, New York
Port Authority pigeon

Sally Franson

New York Poem

Emmanuel Jakpa

Forest of humanity

Charles Springer

Going Up

Gretchen Fletcher

A Healing at the Cloisters

Jerry Ratch

Fall of the Twin Towers

 

 

 

 


 

 

Myths flying low over the city

The red signs on the couple’s foreheads
            show something cosmic or magical.
They sell newspapers. She wears a green sari
            and says with an accent: Daily Nuuzz.
They don’t know what are the Mahabharata, Ramayana,
            the Vedic Hymns. They just try staying afloat
in the rushed sea of passengers near Penn Station.
 
You pick up the paper and give her the coins.
            You look at the poster in the bus stop,
thinking Lancelot must be a football player.
            The Iranian man observes us from his souvenir store
and couldn’t care less of Gilgamesh’s songs.
            The Greek taxi driver doesn’t give a damn about the river Styx
when he takes us towards the Queensborough Bridge.
 
In the cab, we don’t speak. I look up and see
            a Phoenix flying low over 7th Avenue,
flapping its wings over the buses and cars.
            It drops a feather at the traffic light. 
It turns Macy’s corner with a shriek, then up
            to its nest on top of the Empire State Building.
We still don’t speak. The bird sets itself on fire             and no one notices.

back to the top

by: Claudia Serea

 

 

 

 


 

 

Saint Mark’s Place

The saleswoman in the vitamins store is French.
Her witch hair is tied up with a gypsy moth,
and she talks in elliptical phrases.
 
I see a cat, she says.
A black cat. Night.
You like to put on makeup in the cab.
I see a mirror
and razors in the bathtub.
 
She gives me a small jar
with something like green saliva inside.
 
Take this, she says with her accent.
It’s a remedy for fear,
a bitter supplement of courage,
exactement what you need in this city.
 
When we get out,
her laughter has set fire to the trees:

    fall has come to Saint Mark’s Place.


by: Claudia Serea

 

 

 


 

 

Things to do

Call the accountant
buy bread           
buy monthly passes
file the taxes
make meatball soup
clean
pick up shoes from the repair shop
 
Write Easter cards
talk to clients           
smile
smile
make appointment to the dentist
 
Look for old poems and letters
read           
remember old friends
 
Look out the train’s window
 
A cloud is passing over the city
I am not afraid

by: Claudia Serea

 

 

 


 

 

New York, New York

Everything that is, sooner or later,
shows up in New York, the crossroads of
the world, the center of all that's alive,
the place to which every hog-butcher,
tailor, salesman, housewife, hooker, sailor,
brings its business, sucks out cash in belief
of dollar signs, the blessing that above
all others lifts us, one above another,
while children play, and dogs trot in the gutter,
signing their leases with a stream – the love
of being here spills out in tribute to matter:
the spent, the spending – all that ends up here,
roaring and brawling with itself, a hive
of business buzzing:  life, unending, there.

by: JBMulligan

 

 

 


 

 

Port Authority pigeon

I don't know whether
an alley cat
or an escalator
ate its pigeon foot.
It hops, a dark lint gray
across the marble floor,
stops to preen, then flies away --
in a New York minute, it's back once more.
It's known this field for years
(who knows when it was last outside?):
it limps and soars
to the end of the stony road.

by: JBMulligan

 

 

 


 

 

New York Poem

Manhattan was only kind
when it was quiet.

Armed with a ratty sweatshirt, I’d wander
south on Broadway at dawn      

as garbage trucks rattled the city
to life. I liked to wave

at the early birds – businessmen,
and flocks of colorful school

children holding hands with mom.
It meant something to me.

Often I would see the same Latino
man hosing down the concrete

in front of his 100th Street bodega.
The tilt of his nozzle inspired

rainbows above the plastic buckets
of freshly cut flowers.

I always intended to buy myself heaps
of yellow roses. But I couldn’t,

or wouldn’t. Then it was years.
Often you would ask me why

I left New York. I would usually lie.

I never mention the roses. 

 

by: Sally Franson

 

 

 


 

 

Forest of humanity

New York City is a forest
with trees that tells of its beginnings.
New York City is a forest
with fish ponds. And the fishes
winged fly away to live in the air.
New York City is a forest
of dreams, and the geniuses of birds.
New York City is a forest
washed with years of stone and rock.
New York City is a forest
with roots of hewn trees
telling tales of light and heat.
It's easier to love a forest
than a city. New York City is a forest.

by: Emmanuel Jakpa

 

 

 


 

 

Going
Up

Ends
of
planks,
I-beams
of
steel,
balanced
men
straddle
to gobble lunch,
no crumb in sight
for from this height
a wayward crumb
can kill and life is
what this block
at 34th and Fifth
is all about, this
going up so soon
after the Crash
that pushed some
out of windows,
left others picking
dinner out of trash
but not these acrobats,
cable crawlers, riveters
and scalers, these
scaffolders whose toes
of steel you swear are
magnetized, whose eyes
when looking down, look
out across the boroughs,
west past Hackensack,
clear to Pennsylvania,
whose fingers find in pockets
extra nickels for a beer, a new hat
for the Mrs., mittens for the child
whose hands rise up from down below,
holding ninety stories in his palms.


by: Charles Springer

 

 

 


 

 

A Healing at the Cloisters

In a place of ancient peace I wait for my friend,
rub my hands over columns carved by other hands

that long ago found peace under ancient European soil.
A benediction of fountained water flows over stones as rain

drips on cosmos, fennel, and medieval healing herbs.
At the Trie Cloister Café my friend sheds tears

on uneaten foccacia, breaks the present peace,
drowns the soundtrack of Gregorian chant

with her litany of fears about the future.
Look! -  I say.  Across the way

a young priest lures sparrows with bread in an outstretched palm
steadied on the stone wall, restoring peace to the ancient setting.


by: Gretchen Fletcher

 


 

 

Fall of the Twin Towers

Sitting at an outside table at the Bassett Café
on West Broadway, I remember, in the background
 
always the Twin Towers behind me
in the photographs from that time
 
And the sparrows in New York, bolder than anywhere
working over the scraps left on the tables
 
even as we sat there
unafraid
 
flying off with them to their nest
behind the streetlight
 
Or sometimes begging from a businessman
at a table two tables away
 
“She’s hungry,” I said. The bird, head cocked
waiting for something to fall, or to be given
 
The grumpy businessman saying
“Must not be a working bird”
 
And as in any nightmare
or bad and oily daydream
 
he gets up and flies away
as the Towers crumble behind me


by: Jerry Ratch

 

 
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