New York Bridges
(for Walt, with love)
Keep your great earthworm-tunnels,
Keep your black depths, O underground, and the rattling steam through the soil,
Keep your pools of rainwater and the curious rats, and your cross-legged dime musicians,
Keep the cables lining the dark and the empty platforms of a permanent night;
Give me the rooftops—give me wooden water towers and old parapets invisible behind their graffiti!
Give me interminable lights—give me rivers—give me youths and madmen hanging out the windows!
Let me see the city while I’m suspended from the sky—let me dangle from Christmas streamers and crow!
Give me air and light—give me the Bridges of New York!
Give me the D-train with its wide orange eye that gazes forever on the shape and sway of Coney Island!
(The mermaids and carnivaliers call from the beaches—they swim upstream against the current,
Some waving, some singing, up at us on the train; we follow from their good example.)
Give me the pinnacles of the Brooklyn in a salt-spray dawn!
O move for me! O an ecstatic life, full of chatter and lightning!
The life of the huckster, bag-man, pole-gripping poet for me!
The bikes on the Williamsburg! the Roosevelt towers for me! the J and the Q and their hot silver blood!
The metal mouths of trains opening and closing, swallowing and spitting we rail-addled dreamers;
Nothing but people coming and going, every element but the prison of clay,
New York bridges like veins, umbilicals, the tramped-out procession of stories,
The twenty-four-hour symphony of steel and cement (even in the lowest hour of the moon,)
New York bridges, pressed up in sharp relief to the heavens!
New York bridges forever carry me.
Joseph Harker used to do melodramatic renditions of TV commercials as a kid, which turned into a career in college theatre, which went nowhere; so now he’s writing poetry instead. His work has appeared in qarrtsiluni, Assaracus, MediaVirus, and other fine publications; he has also just self-published his first chapbook, Greeks Bearing Gifts. He lives in New York, blogs at naming constellations, and wanders everywhere else.