Every time I go to New York City
I always make time for two things:
one, to read poetry before an audience;
two, to eat pizza.
My obvious presence on the stage
attests to the former,
the obvious presence under my shirt
confirms the latter.
There’s something about that burg
that brings out my appetites.
Something about how swiftly
the people move makes me want
to add to it all, stir the air a bit on my own,
and to take something of it back with me
to my slower home. I shovel in a giant slice
from a hole in a wall and it sticks to me
as close as a brother in arms. It makes me want
to nourish a sheet of paper in return, to offer
gratitude for what I have received from this place
on the run, filling myself as I walk among the crowd
without a name of my own: just another shlub
doing the New York Thing, taking whatever I can,
leaving whatever I can, and doing it all
at the speed of life.
If what is usually invisible
were to become opaque,
would we ever leave the cover
of our beds? Would we dare
to immerse ourselves in brown wind
or pale-blue humidity?
Light would be forgotten at once.
We’d have no need of it,
and we’d have to find new constants.
Everything would be subject
Think of us all, for instance,
so certain of the intangible natures
of love and hate. If we found ourselves plunged
into this new life, suddenly blind, drowning in its indigo
stew, catching only the fire of its
red-streaked highlights, with no certainty
as to what we were feeling, or how it was
happening, I think we would all
go mad for a time.
Until we retrained ourselves to navigate
from one passion to another, we would
fall silent and still.
Our comas would show
would indicate a longing for change.
Language would fail.
We’d be dumbstruck.
Eventually, some genius would realize
that words themselves could be exchanged
for paintbrushes and palette knives.
We’d learn how to mix colors
and exact our meaning with varied strokes and scrapings.
Every day would be art. All of us would become
artists. We’d loathe the crippled hands
of the untalented. We’d come back
to our former lives, throwing back the covers
to greet the day, all our prejudices and pressures
restored to us in a new swirl
of paradise reimagined,
with the essential question unanswered:
how do we draw out Eden
from a cloudy, muddled world?