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
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?