I switch off mid-sentence
And watch the lights looping Manhattan into LaGuardia,
For a mere moment motionless and surveying from starless sky
The swollen snakehead of a molting America.
New York City. Metro Multiversal. Apple and Eden.
A year plus half here dwelling in
The Village, Billyburg, Chelsea, Harlem and Queens
And you know,
It’s glistening and alive, this human gel,
A bright torch in a burnt-out bushland,
Mating loudmouth locals with Midwest make-goods,
Teething those thousands from teeming shores,
A trophy case of talent and ambition yet
Touching 9/11 in the dark, behind beers,
A nebula of neuroses picking people off
In the dark of heartness.
But we’re uptowning, downtowning, crosstowning,
Intuiting trains and
Reaching for that place
Where night percolates and peaks
And it’s all so great.
From the Alpha City hum of happy hour
To the bouncered doors
And bouncing walls of the LES,
Hams from all over are
Hamming it up
Honing it up
Boning it up
In this massive factorial of a city.
Swimming schools of people
Slosh over each other
Wash over each other and it’s
Savage and sweet the way
Worlds stagger into each other,
Prop each other up, tear each other down,
Become each other,
Become love, hate, beauty, garbage, art.
Create it, fake it and never wait for it,
That’s the game in NYC.
Young hammerheads in Yankees gear strike fear,
Mouth hip-hop in hard-man sutras
And juxtapose with
Furred sophisticunts in DG sunnies
Way beyond Botox but
The mixing is mad, the confluence is rad
And even the artificial can be artful
Like that styrofoam snowfall from somewhere in the sky
One winter sunny day in Brooklyn.
The seven spirits you from center where
In Woodside mass Mexicans,
Pueblistas lining Sixty-ninth Street
In a cold gray sleet;
Men without women
Men wiring women,
Waiting for gloveless night
Where anything they need can be found
Under the tracks on Roosevelt –
the taco trucks and beat-up bars blinking hot in the neon cheap.
This is the town that tells us
Life must simply have willed itself into being,
In the beginning,
And that you must as well.
But the way light becomes brick
Is a trick that says we were made to be here
And Saturday night muggings
And Shoot the Freak on Coney Island
Say it isn’t so and so
I scan faces for grace
Headlines for hope
Websites for light
TV for that tidbit that
Tells us we’ll be alright
That we’re a good people
That we ever were or may be
In this Earth-moving crucible of collective energy.
But in the East Village
In K town
On the Upper East Side,
In Tribeca, Greenpoint, Astoria or Staten Island,
We know that whether we’re losing ourselves, finding ourselves
Or grinding ourselves out,
That it all must be done
That it just has to be done
In this wicked mix-up of diaspora and dimension
In this living, lingering hyper-legend
Of New York City.