New York Poem


Why do we race for the scrap heaps of all forgotten things?

Is it to watch the plumes of smoke

Bellowing from a future

Which is not a future but wasted hours waiting

For men and women to finally stand

But who never stood for anything at all?

Do you understand?

And what are the solutions

When the young become as brutal as New York City landlords

Turning our buildings into shooting galleries

For out of towners who walk pretty

In their cock sure skin

With its perfect glow

And whose gravity broadens the shoulders of

Those who live with bent backs

From the labor of becoming exhibits

For those who will never stay

but will always be

Just visiting.

As one mayor put it

“New York is open for business”.

The brutality Mr. Algren is that only the truly wealthy

Can own a judge

And getting off on a misdemeanor is afforded only to

Those who can pay the price of admission of staying out of the tombs.


Are we (the new Indians)

To be buried under the ruins

That were our rooms

Or the bathroom that sat at the end of the hall?

Oh New York

With your buildings as clean as ancient Rome

Would you have the waters of the Hudson River

Wash us away into the oceans

And our breath bleached from your air?

And what are air rights other than

A rich man’s attempt to claim the horizon as his own?

Are we to wash up on the shores of Plumb Island

With all the news papers

Used syringes and Coney Island white fish?

Even the taxi driver who passes through the nights

On streets that are nowhere avenues to him

Will never call the great pinball machine of Time Square home.

His place is across the George Washington Bridge where he disappears

Into the view across the Hudson.

Someone saw to that along time ago

In some backroom deal.

You can’t love a city

Unless you love its ghosts

Who will always haunt the SRO of the heart.

They are all there here:

The subway suicide diver

Whose last act of desperation delayed the 1 train for 6 hours.

The squeegee man

who will forever clean passing windshields at new intersections with old and soiled water

The shut in

who lost her mind only to be locked up in Saint Lukes

The street artist who found his lot among other street artists in Washington Square Park

Before freezing to death in the jaws winter.

Or all of the iron workers whose words will never make it into the history

As dirty faced testimonies of those buried under the concrete

Of a story white washed.

Richard who wound up on the streets after being evicted from the apartment he was born in

for being a hoarder

Only to be let back in a few months later

Then dying in the hospital two weeks later.

There is the cop who was shot in the head up in the Bronx

And the punk still looking for a place to play

Now that CBGB is gone

A question to the city from a letter

Are you really a dying arcade?

Click to Rate This Article