BENEDICTION

FOR destroying old penn station, you’re forgiven FOR occasionally making the cheap ticket home out of newark, you’re forgiven FOR replacing gray’s on 8th with a liquiteria even though the other one only has franks and it was the best slice in the city, you’re forgiven FOR 1/2 price mondays at bagel bob’s, you’re forgiven FOR the out of print mass market classics shelf at the strand where i’ve found three of four $2.95 white salingers, you’re forgiven FOR city hall park where i sit at night in the light of gas lamps 4/5 under my feet under the hundred year old woolworth building which for the first seventeen years of its life was the tallest in the world, you’re forgiven

INVOCATION

the park lives in spring!
tell it to the kids
playing in the empty fountain
tell it to the manhattan kids club kids
in big yellow shirts and crocs
tell it to the fences
letting the grass grow
and this pug puppy
and this couple in yellow pants
kissing outside
for the first time since october
oh no!
this kid reaches for the rail
and misses and tumbles
but fuck if he cares no
he’s right back up it’s spring!
tell garibaldi to holster that sword it’s spring!
tell the pigeon on his head to stick
its chin up a bit more it’s spring

GRACE

today! grace
almost smiled (not at u, jeez)
grace church (4th and 10)
the school not the church
is fenced chainlink twice as tall as u
wednesdays the children play recess (remember)
the grace children who
saw u seeing urself like
mountains in a photograph not in front of u
grace who grinned (almost)
the grace children who
u were walking along saw playing
(look at that old person!)
well kids
i tie my shoes but never learned knitting

DEDICATION

i’ll bet when god was finished w u
He leaned back in his chair like pissarro
finishing his second meditation from the apartment
on the rue de rivoli above the tuileries
with an emptiness in him somewhere
something hypoglycemic
missing lunch to get it right
in all likelihood
(and who could blame Him)
He wasn’t paying attention ur 18th year
when u bit the cap off a bottle of beer
but seeing you now, a grin
His masterpiece completed without Him
a finish unplannable: ur big left tooth, chipped

COMMUNION

Wed 5:20 pm boiling water for pasta a pinch of salt collects at the bottom of the pot, the wood spatula traces lines in the salt. U read the new yorker an article about andean mines in the highest town in the world, la rinconada, the article opens her eyes, her face, her arm, her hip, there- he sits on the couch listening through headphones to green day today is his day off. He steps out of the bathroom, his tie today is the one with skulls, he is not home. The water is boiling u add the pasta and stash the folded new yorker between the cabinet and coffee tins and cover the chicken the sauce in the fridge is old the garbage overflowing the strainer rests in the sink on bowls plates wineglasses silverware it is 5:21 pm wednesday, the doorbell rings.

PRAYER

Honey:

Since I won’t be seeing you for who knows how long and since I know you like letters here I am writing you a letter long after letterwriting went out of date

Cozy’s Soup ’n’ Burger has Christmas decorations in their window still but there’s so few customers it’s no wonder when they write out the check they add a quarter or a dime to each dish

When we went after the library at 2 am we were the only two in the place so I imagine these nights at 2 am it’s completely empty

I looked down this morning from my 12th floor window onto 14th st as I do every morning the people aren’t bundled so much lately so I left my gloves and scarf in the dresser

It isn’t as cold since you left the sun isn’t shining more there’s fewer people on the streets and fewer cars

Did you ever see the man who stood on University and Waverley with the ten-gallon jug he asked for a penny just one penny for the homeless but I walked through there today and didn’t see him

It is the wind!

It’s stopped blowing since you left I noticed it today on 9th which is usually the most unbearable in the wind but today it was dead calm

I wonder if it’s got something to do with the pigeons they’re all gone packed up like the man in park behind the arch does with his toy pigeons

I haven’t seen the piano man all winter but last winter I remember him playing even in the snow which we haven’t even had yet

Something I’ve been thinking about—time is not one for breakfast is brunch here and served at 2:00, the afternoon’s after dark and in the evening the rest of the country sleeps

Old town blue and black I know only it when I walk today I walked for work I delivered mail to ½ 5th ave behind garden level where’s hid a statue of Cervantes a gift of Spain to the city a gift gifted again to the university hidden here

There there was a man kind to me he said ‘have a good day ok’ have a good day ok like we agreed that I promised him today will be a good day ok

There was a pile of Christmas trees on the sidewalk

I went to Think on Mercer tonight asked for a decaf took 10 minutes decaf? I guess we have that

There were more cabs than usual or fewer other cars the tourists are easy to spot in winter they’re the coldest ones and the only ones hailing unlit cabs

I moved last month into your old building on 23rd st you told me when you lived up here you walked home on the west side of 3rd ave because above 17th st you could watch the Chrysler which for you was the best skyscraper in the city

My life has long been associated with skyscrapers ever since I was a little girl and the tallest thing I’d ever seen was the statue of Abraham Lincoln in dc

If I’d had thirty eyes they would have fit on my face like the chevrons that light up the top of the Chrysler at night if I was over a thousand feet tall my head too would have grown into a point and the eagles sprouting out of my shoulders are I imagine the reason you talked to me in the first place

Halfway between 14th and 23rd is 18 and a half in the elevator my ears pop the shades of blue and green clear objects like glass take on around their edges but there is no chandelier hanging above the bed my pencils are still in the sock drawer I checked you’re not watching tv tonight you’re just going to sleep

One of us still has an apartment in Brooklyn she has all the parties way the fuck out in Brooklyn gotta change trains at least once to get there

Cabs swear to whoever take the tunnel it’s faster but it’s fucking slower and you gotta pay the toll

It’s only worth if it this happens if you’re there all night so the sun comes up through the blinds probably 6 now you realize you haven’t slept otherwise just stay in Manhattan and sleep in Manhattan there aren’t birds by the window chirping I wish I was a bird so I could tell the other birds to shut the fuck up what is this place a forest I thought we were in a city the birds woke up time too and it was over all I have left is my sweater smelling like it I don’t even like it

It’s ash Wednesday today they’ll all mark themselves a smudge on their foreheads the catholics even the non-practicing ones which must be most including a woman wiping a tear with her cigarette hand her phone hand away from 14th and 3rd

A bus reveals a man playing the only cd he owns flamenco

There’s a chance it wasn’t a tear and her eye waters in the cold but what chance is that the smudge on her forehead could have been ash of the cigarette it seems like a risk to wipe your tear with your cigarette hand today

People like me may mistake her for a catholic who are all to blame for the reminder of this day last year

5 march 2014 kissed a girl on a fire escape doesn’t matter who walked through the park after midnight past the galvanized barriers no pause to admire its emptiness no stop to watch the piano man play clair de lune in boots because I brought her back

I knew before it happened climbing over the back of the couch against the window lifting the wood frame up stepping through with one leg and the other it was cold

The kind of cold that feels good on the cheek when I’ve had to much to drink I looked down (oops) from my vantage spied Abe’s face on the concrete (was I high enough that it could have driven right through someone’s skull?)

Sounds not written city sounds I knew right before it happened holding the cold iron stay my acrophobia keep this now it’ll take forever

Cold outside heading back from the party it’s all I could think

NYC I know some days it tests that some days everyone’s a mess that some days no one has any direction and no idea I walk behind them and they stop short and they won’t cross a red hand when there aren’t cars for blocks

These days I’m tempted when someone’s walking at me opposite me on the sidewalk not to move we’ll collide they’ll fall I won’t I’m bigger anyway they should I’m bigger

NYC is good on other walks New York on those days everyone’s with purpose all in the same direction on those days

On those days we might as well walk as far as we can

30 minutes before sunrise as fast as we’re allowed across the plains east we race toward the sun as it breaks the surface we turn around and race up the mountain at 12,000’ the trees thin out and disappear completely not enough oxygen for them just enough for us on the other side the continent divides rivers pacific and atlantic

There’s no snow on top in august when we go my sisters told me when I was small Alaska was on the other side of the rockies but I know now it’s just Grand Junction more desert and Utah and the setting sun we race toward glowing redder as the light coming off it travels off it three hundred million meters a second plus the hundred or so miles an hour we’re going which feels like hurtling

The sun hangs on the horizon a hundred miles an hour longer we slow to a stop our feet finally tired we whisper

‘I want to hear the end of the world before it comes, so we have time to fly to Nevada before it does’

Under this Nevada sky we will see all of the stars and we will watch them all explode individually and tumble toward us

If you haven’t been tilt your hand ninety degrees to your eyes trace a line through the north star and your thumbnail curl the tips of your fingers to the base of your fingers those lines are the tracks of rocket cars setting land-speed records those fingers are mountains at Nevada’s edge all of it could use some of that good smelling lotion you keep on you

We go the long way around across an ocean floor to the highlands we spend the fall there watching the hills turn brown into white

i’m driving it’s a manual you’re on your phone the whole time looking at photos you don’t look at or talk about anymore pictures of old presidents with cartoon captions you found so funny once you don’t even know i’m looking

before i go any further but after we’ve crossed the Mississippi at least two times i want to look out of the window and steal

the bayou below us the tiger moth itself we flew from san antonio to boston sitting on the swings with you in 6th grade you let me go on and on about settling down with you here,

at the end of the film that ends in a theater, with us and everyone there and even ghosts are there and we wonder why didn’t anyone stop us

In short I think it’s very quiet without you

I still walk to work instead of taking the train, still lace up these heavy waterproof boots, remember the day it rained the day it was supposed to rain all day and all day it didn’t so I put on my comfortable boots instead, they took days to dry out

Hurry home, kid. You are apparently the life of this city. I didn’t realize before you could take it with you and I fear everyone else will leave if you don’t bring it back

- Dearest

BEATITUDE

At 22, you were seen climbing to the top of a water tower in midtown. On the very same night, at 17, you were cycling round the Las Vegas foreclosure era resort you lived in while attending high school

Notice the rungs are flat, not round like your fire escape. The sides are frigid it is almost April your hands are numb you rest a moment, your foot on the first step. Before he asks if you’re really gonna do it you start to climb

You coast over the back side of the bridge spanning Interstate 5. It’s the way home

Had you looked over your shoulder you might have seen him too occupied with the parking lot 19 stories below to pay attention

On your street there are few houses, all in the pastel beach style you don’t recognize from East Coast beach towns. Whatshisname but sometimes you see him in the evenings lives in the other one the modern-looking one

Earlier, leaning against the edge of the roof. “I don’t know anyone here,” you say. “There are a few people I know but none I want to talk to,” you hear him say, “I’ve been feeling this way about everything”

The old man’s garbage cans are still beside his garage, no lights a car in the driveway and crickets, go ahead and watch yourself do it it’s more fun

“That’s a good place to toss a wine bottle,” he says, “Good clean shot.” Glance over reaching for your glasses

The whole time thinking why why am I doing this

The first time a wine bottle tossed off a roof it had been your idea your building your alley during your party your aim you who’d wondered off first with the bottle

Yellow house, lobstertail grass, no neighbors next door, a used M3. Home, arriving home. Arriving home.

Twist there’s the Empire State Building look lit white cameras flashing from its 86th floor observatory. No place to sit, the water tower twists the view into the size of it, first, then how long to stay... try to focus on a lot of specific details

The night before you biked across that bridge to meet a humming diamondback in your phone flashlight. You let him go last night, but tonight...

Hold yourself against your arm’s length imagine yourself on the United States Diving Team, the wind against your back, the grace of it all, your back arcing headfirst could you aim yourself, if you wanted, into the bits of broken glass

You were seen, it was the same night, five years old, running across the Sonoran desert full tilt and you suddenly stopped

SACRAMENT

& looking out
12 flights
above 14th
and 3rd

street, saltbleached empty
grace church, bells clapping my ears
party, cannot say

joe’s, not open yet
song, solo nevada gas
station, guard asleep

elevator! wait
key, third time’s the charm
living room, a mess

beds, made early by
roommate, passed out in bk
window, blinds go up

street, saltbleached empty
sun, mercy clouded over
con ed, times not right

IX
  VIII
    VII
      VI
        V
          IV
            III
              II

the director calls action from his chair suddenly we’re starring in the next cooper lawrence romcom our conversation like

CUT TO: INT. MTA BUS - NIGHT

fortunately i pay the 10 dollars a month extra for the cable company’s dvr the screenprinted semicircle picture ending in two arrows peels off the 15 second remind button i keep playing ur hair falling onto ur chandelier nose ur waxed nails leading ur hand leading ur hair falling onto ur chandalier nose ur waxed nails ur hand ur hair

AND

ur rocky mountain voice so virile so refreshing covered in snow they send sick bourgeois women to it in the 1890s to feel taller one of them katherine lee bates writes america the beautiful from the top of it in 5th grade my grandmother dies in the shadow of it the funeral goes on without me because of a weeklong bow and arrow school trip to it in 6th grade i race down it on rented skis in a fluorescent jacket good thing i don’t have scissors to cut the zip tie securing the lift ticket to my jacket because i want everyone to know i’ve heard it

AND

ur spanish toes dancing flamenco in the cold try to reach duende or at least to sweat because when they sweat ur paris summer goes with the sweat concealed in drops of water frozen to the skin of ur feet melted absorbed by ur wool socks finally destroyed this weekend during the rinse cycle

AND

this bus will drop us off at the top of the river in summer with our tubes we’ll drift down the sacandaga upstate our floating cooler full of pbr because we’re too young to know what beer to be drinking

BLESSING

I want to love all of you
new york, but I don’t
love your curb water

You remember Florida, don’t
you, how the swings felt
when you were no longer in elementary school

I have my own room now
so at least
I can sit around if I want

Dangling our legs over the unfinished house
you suggest tattoos
“Our mothers wouldn’t want us up here, this is the kind of thing

PASSAGE

Jumper at the Mews!
Only one engine could respond
the sky is blue for once in winter
pretend this is wherever if it is better
being here is no reason still to be here
i have been in Paris now for weeks
and you are there with me and this street
the only street in the village out of place
is there but only you know in your head
california or glencoe or berlin or moscow
JUMPER AT THE MEWS
They let the ladder out behind him,
slow not to spook him off the edge
there is the two of us here to watch
the firefighter halfway up the ladder
he is up there too! but he will not jump
O Jumper we love you don’t jump!

PERORATION

dodging ice dodging snow dodging rain and ankle-deep oceans of slush dodging cabs dodging rickshaws dodging an m79 and takeout bags tied to handlebars dodging tourists dodging people and Alec dodging us dodging the homeless dodging handbags and backpacks and plastic bags brimmed with soda cans and the chinese woman in Washington Square or Battery Park with both her bags balanced on a six-foot pole on her four-foot shoulder dodging trash dodging rats dodging squirrels squirrels dodging the bark of dogs dogs dodging the leash of their masters dodging sparrows dodging pigeons dodging a stream over the saltbleached sidewalk and the person standing face and front in the corner back to me back to me dodging eyes