Saturday, April 4, 2009
April in New York, a clear blue sky,
So let us go then, you and I,
And observe this world we occupy
The roar of buses going by.
The sound of sirens and automobiles
And some sirens wearing stiletto heels
Bright lipstick, fedora hats, and black slacks
Beautiful women carrying backpacks.
On the sidewalk a corn muffin surrounded by pigeons,
Pigeons gathered at the pigeons’ soup kitchen,
Fluttering away to avoid the stampede of feet
And ducking back in to get a bite to eat.
A sunny day and so warm outside,
All the sidewalk café tables are occupied,
Plates of calamari deep-fried,
Spaghetti carbonara, pizza large-size,
Panini and French-fries
Within easy reach of passerbys
And the eaters look up with wary eyes
Seeing that anybody in New York
Could reach down and grab your fork.
In front of the Public Library on Fifth Avenue
And 42nd the two
Stone lions whose names are Patience and Fortitude
Stand looking at the passing multitude,
Stone lions who guard the library door
And who, according to folklore,
If anyone passes who has never experienced amore,
The lions will roar.
And there in the sunshine, many library clients
Sit on the steps, reading between the lions.
On the Promenades of Bryant Park
London plane trees, with smooth green bark
And there in the middle is revealed
A lawn as long as a football field.
People sit beneath the trees,
By railings with gold fleur de-lis
Silver laptops on their knees,
Listening to their mp3s
Perhaps a suite by J.S. Bach
Accompanying feet on the sidewalk
Some walk allegro, some maestoso,
Some andante, and some go so
Slow and pause
Blue Hyacinths in flower beds,
Daffodils have raised their heads,
Bushes green as spring returns,
White weeping flowers in marble urns,
Under the locust trees, by the boxwood shrubs
The meeting of small outdoor book clubs,
People sit in bright sunshine
Near the statues of Goethe and Gertrude Stein
And so that they must not tolerate fools:
There are rules.
Be quiet during certain hours,
No feeding pigeons or picking flowers,
No panhandling for food or cash,
No rummaging around in the trash,
No drugs, no loud music, no alcohol,
No performances, no playing ball.
People reading in the open air,
At bus stops, in restaurants, and everywhere.
New York is famous for museums and theaters
But let me tell you: it’s a city of readers.
Because it is a New Yorker’s fate
To have to stand and wait,
And this morning at 9
When you stepped onto a train on the B line,
You had no idea how much time it took,
So you brought a book.
You simply were not sure.
And this is the birth of literature,
Fiction, non-fiction, prose or rhyme.
To pass the time
Life does not proceed efficiently.
There are gaps.
Minutes, hours perhaps.
A person sits and waits and waits
And that produces Joyce and Yeats.