Posts Tagged Brooklyn

The House of Dying

Here I am, in a Brooklyn backyard, reading Donald Hall,
A book of 1970s poems called “Kicking The Leaves”
From around the time when he moved back
To the old New Hampshire homestead where his
Great-grandfather farmed from after the Civil War

Until the year before the so-called Great War.
I’m told he still lives there, frail and old,
And recently The New Yorker published
What one could only read as the poet’s note of farewell.
Yet here I am, watching the birds in April

While the trees are budding and the difference
Between a male and a female sparrow becomes apparent:
The males marvel, posed but alert,
As the females shake their wings and asses,
A call for assistance from the reproductive branch.

On the pages, I return again to “the house of dying”,
A phrase written in the middle of life
And a terrific title for a book
That a person could write when he is done
Jotting down the lines of this poem and the next

With a cheap plastic pen from the Algonquin Hotel
And done sitting here, in this cathedral of spindly maples,
As cardinals, robins, finches, and brown thrashers
Descend from on high, like prayers
No one needs to answer.

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Spring in New York

I thank Thee, Lord, for spring in New York
And for sidewalks scattered with gloves
For three new construction sites down the block
And for strangers to piss me off

For neighbors smoking on fire escapes
At three o’clock in the morn’
Life in a city that never sleeps —
A life of kind-hearted ignoring

I thank Thee, Lord, for the BQE
For buses of tourists hoping to see
Authentic Brooklyn
Which it would be
Were it not for them
(not for me)

Oh, I thank Thee, Lord, for spring in New York
Where writers in their 30s write memories
Eating 30 dollar sustainable pork
And drink Pinot Noir out of Ball jars

I thank Thee for the kids in Underwood Park
Who cry, “Let’s play Barack Obama”
I wouldn’t have experienced that today
If my neighbor had been a dirt farmer

Oh, Lord, one more thing, before I forget
I thank Thee for aerodynamics
What New Yorkers need, time and again,
Is to fly off and assess the damage

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Another Old Christmas (Howard Walker’s Christmas Song)

I’d be such as terrific guest at your house
You don’t have to comb your hair
I’d bring a quart of Old Crow, chocolate for your kids
I’d even bring my own folding chair
And I’d sit by your table, no, I won’t stare at you
That tree sure is decked out in style
And if I don’t make it this time around
I might be there in a while.

I’d be such as terrific guest at your house
Say, who painted that painting over there?
I like what your husband did to the floors
Oh, that fire burns so warm and clear
The smell in this kitchen brings back memories
The apron my mother used to wear
Well, if I’m not there before darkness falls
I might have gotten hung up somewhere.

I’d be such a terrific guest at your house
My cousin has this old Chevrolet
That dress looks exactly the same on you
As it did at Half Moon Bay
No, I didn’t get your letter, no, Jack passed away
I see they’re building a new road through town
The shadows are long, we might see some snow
But you might not see me around.

I’d be such as terrific guest at your house
This Christmas I’ll bring you a book
And sit by the piano and hum a few tunes
If I cry, pretend not to look
Well, here comes the jailer, it’s time for lights out
I‘ll finish this letter some time soon
It’s another old Christmas for me without you
But at midnight, let’s both look at the moon.

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Rockaway

I was swimming the other day
Along the coast of the Rockaway Peninsula
When a flock of hundreds of birds
Came in low out of nowhere
Eyes dark and determined

And then I thought of François Mitterrand
How he served thirty Ortolan buntings
For one of his last meals, how they are
Caught alive, blinded, force-fed and drowned in Armagnac
So as to be killed and marinated in one fell swoop

I have never been this close to so many birds
See how they dare make themselves available
In the silvery, silent end of season
So majestic and yet so at hand
The significance if which, I have decided,

Is more than just this

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