“It’s the new economy, we have nothing to offer and we sleep on trash” - Will Toledo

When you walk down into the subway and they’re going the other direction sometimes you have to briefly see each other across the platform. You have two choices: you can wave a little frantic, surprised, and depending, also delighted. It may be nice that the goodbye was premature. Or you can ignore that it’s happening and instead look directly at your phone. Maybe there isn’t much encoded in a single decision but that night I sat across from you and opened the Village Voice wide enough that it covered my eyebrows. The uptown train slid by and I sighed and then caught my breath again, as I saw your waving face in the subway’s window. My palm was open but my arm was too heavy somehow, maybe with knowing that you weren’t home

we have never bothered to follow the tour of our neighborhood (it must be of the murals) but we have been quick to criticize it

ON THE MOST BEAUTIFUL DAY THAT’S EVER HAPPENED

We stayed indoors, because your south facing windows are enormous. Assembling a new bed and speaking gibberish for ten consecutive minutes on the floor, until all of our friends left us. Unable to stop laughing—the food took two and a half hours to deliver and it must be exactly how Ed Snowden felt discovering the whole system was working together against us all. My phone buzzes an alert from the New York Times: BREAK­ING Daisies are back this year and in surprising number

the world is golden in an instant

Had it ever been pointed out to us how Manhattan, from our roof, still resembles the city at the end of the poem? Our polish friend, on her first trip to the Napa Valley, explained the winemakers had been bad before the french taught them to do it properly, and you asked about the state of polish wines. Alicja said, “We haven’t asked for help yet.” Which is to say when dayglo signs in south Manhattan windows say ART IS DEAD IN THE CITY, they don’t consider Bushwick, where the painting just isn’t good yet

you showed me a Times article by Kyle Chayka, who used to live in my bedroom, and in it he writes people who have it all now seem to prefer having nothing at all

Captain Freeman expertly pilots his 1957 de Havilland beaver seaplane, lifting off from the East River, crossing the Freedom Tower, and going Manhattan to 26 Wilson Ave faster than anyone i know 2,000 feet above us he can’t make out what we wrote tho he could see the individual pieces of chalk

because the builders next door didn’t want to mess up our roof it’s covered half across in plywood and cinderblocks. we stacked them two to a seat in the direction of the view we desired

But no one can tell we snuck into their basement one night to see what it looked like, the beaver rattling by again over the ceilings

There you recited lines from a poem by Roy Lennard which i had never heard:

I CALLED YOU MY WIFE BECAUSE YOU DIDN’T UNDERSTAND THE LANGUAGE AND IT WAS FUN FOR SOMEONE TO THINK WE WERE

The line breaks were too cheap-Reznikoff for you, you said, but i looked them up later in Fales’ rare book collection and the lines weren’t written like that, and it was a much worse poem

the chalk is soggy now, on the roof, but it will dry and the wind will take it away soon if you come over today we can go up and sweep it i think we should because i finally met the neighbors last night and she’s a butcher

OUR HOME

OTHER HOMES

Mr. Cameron talking it over with Mrs. Cameron
rolling onto his back four-poster bed:
“I’ve got to call the queen.”
NEW

It’s 2016, so i knew everything about it before we went, but it’s after the election so i know not to trust any of it

i thought we had a legitimate shot at ending romantic poetry just the two of us
now we r all political poets

halfway through the Bible and all the way through the dictionary still i have this pressure on my throat, and the shape of the first syllable on my tongue, it

isn’t that we didn’t have a good time on Breakneck Ridge, or it didn’t live up to its name

it’s that even seventy miles north of here the principle reason to go is to climb the fire tower on top where from there on a clear day like we went the sky puts on its perfume-tinted evening wear and we pointed out to the non-new yorkers the Freedom Tower, the E.S.B., and the apartment tower on 57th St which we didn’t have a name for yet

We shout it to the bird: we will never again fail
to see our tax dollars spent well
on search and rescue

we were following a blue trail for twenty minutes
we were following a red trail through the woods

The most i see of you is through a lens (i am too nervous)

the way you hold yourself in front of the suited landscape, you must be praying and i for once wish i was God so I could answer and nothing I could say could be wrong

the New York-New Jersey Trail Conference (nynjtc.org) gives Breakneck Ridge Difficulty: Strenuous and it is.

2 8 P A Y S A G E

the shortcoming of the american landscape is not so much (as romantic illusion would have it) the absence of historical memories as that it bears no traces of the human hand

Ursula, today the sky is emptying itself is empty of itself like something i haven’t started dreaming yet like an orchard that would be empty like a field

like clouds getting paler as it rains so you can start to see through them so there is a transparent kind of music over everything and everything is hushing

like Gleizes, the eyes when you are in the car, hurrying and there is no way to take everything in and now the landscape vanishing and vanishing it is as if no one had ever passed their hand over the landscape’s hair

but the memory of it gives a lot of second chances

it’s the same two textures of absence over and over again somehow trying to feel out the difference between a nothing that is there and a nothing that isn’t

looking at the whole sky the whole sky and the barer spaces without touch and sound and thinking a person is more important than everything else thinking that this is a serious paradise and that the sky will be so big and soft will be the eyes

i’ll be reading your postcards on the train like an asshole surrounded by no one knowing they’re yours

the sort of pop up flower sales that happen in Williamsburg which must be nice for everyone else are particularly nice for me when i get off at Lorimer ten minutes too early and must take the long way to the apartment you’re about to give up to move in with me

neither of us will have much to talk about we’ll smoke and complain about the stairs after they wouldn’t let you in to the office on a saturday we had to go across the street for five dollar beers instead, we complain about our love lives across a spoiled rug and hovering silence over the question you shouldn’t have asked, do you think my baseball cap should rep New York or New Jersey? hanging over your bed isn’t a painting at all, the same brush strokes texture repeated into the canvas makes you think that it is i don’t know where you think that is where we’re going isn’t going to look like that i assure you

we’re not going to get thai food tomorrow again, who knew that restaurants with a C rating were actually the gems, who would have guessed at a restaurant with five tables for two it could feel so big on the inside you keep telling me your roommate drinks too much i’ve never seen him exhibit this behavior i’ve only seen him afterward with a pillow under his head all pleasantly pleasantries because he’s british when i’m reaching for more cigarettes i knock an elephant off your bookshelf your friend gave you because you lost the llama she gave you from Peru you can’t lose the elephant it lands softly on my coat autumn time is just as good a time as any time even when it comes in spring it isn’t that anyone’s favorite square is Union Square, you just can’t help yourself from thinking it’s pretty on sundays all serene all surrounded by police barricades and it isn’t that we don’t know Hattan Cleaners on 15th and 3rd just took off the first three letters when they bought it from the old owners, we just don’t care

  1. When you walk down into the subway
  2. By Louise Matsakis
  3. On the Most Beautiful Day That’s Ever Happened
  4. “The World is Golden in an Instant” from Willa Cather’s The Song of the Lark
  5. You Showed Me a New York Times Article By Kyle Chayka, Who Used to Live in My Bedroom
  6. Interlude
  7. On Breakneck Ridge
  8. 28 Paysage
  9. By A. R. Zarif, italicized from Theodor W. Adorno’s Minima Moralia
  10. I’ll Be Reading Your Postcards on the Train Like an Asshole Surrounded By No One Knowing They’re Yours