New-Old York City
Free Verse Poem
Sounds abound, motorcycles roar,
elongated buses funk up the dirty air,
two dollar vans careen the streets
on steel rims,while neighbors fight
and sex in that order,
the baby dogs’ mess is bagged
ambulance scream blood and pain,
children toy on the floor
above your bed,
Marley still winds for ganja
and clerics call out for evening prayers.
The walls of the buildings are plaster
The bitter farts of a roommate are heard before flushed.
Cramped spaces rise above ground,
blocking stars on their penthouse perches,
leaving only shadows.
Hungry Mexicans lean against the anorexic landscape
hoping for a days’ labor before dawn.
The insane and the homeless hordes
rummage garbage bins for drunken gold,
in discarded aluminum cans
A one armed statue stands on the filthy Hudson
promising weary fortunes to pagan minds.
March down the dingy stairs, pay the costly fare,
walk the double -sided
platform with its speckled faces and
step inside the moving tomb while hanging
bats spy the darkness for obese rats under dormant rails.
Ride, Sally, ride, avoiding the eyes of the mad
as it speeds through flashing signals
towards the City’s pulsing heart.
Exit the carousel of turn stiles,
take the escalator to the street
where the mouth salivates at the smells
of empanadas, strudel, lamb masala,
fish tacos, oxtails, lean brisket
and fiery shredded beef.
Glimpse the hushed, sacred worlds of Van Gogh,
Vermeer, Bearden and Grandma Moses.
Elbow the rich lunching on leaves at Sardis’s.
Stretch out under the board walk
or take a dip in the soiled waters of Coney Island.
Tour the arcades, grab some potato fries
and then go wind surfing with the Russians
along the Belt Parkway.
Stand with the Hassidim and Asians
at a live Peep Show near 8thAve and 44th Street.
Watch the naked, watching you!
Purchase some Chai and a Metro card
from Yemen Blues singers.
Show love to a fishmonger in the Bronx
at Hunt’s Point.
Listen to Peruvians panpipes
and wonder at ballerinas toeing
to the rhythmic world, at the Met.
Sing praises with the saints
on Sundays in the Tabernacle
of the Holy Ghost and drop a dollar
in the collection baskets,
then race over to the Casino
in Queens, go away empty and pleased.
Study history at the Schomburg
and pick at tangy BBQ in Harlem.
Enter Central Park, hear its song
at the band shelter, handle Alice in Wonderland,
carry a blanket or rent a bike.
Think your own thoughts about the city
that needs to but never sleeps.
Then ferry out to Staten Island,
visit family, shop the stores and
feast on pasta stuffed with crab
at the Tug Boat Grill.
Finally, relax your mind,
exit west on the Verrazano Bridge
and take a trip into the other America.
Photograph by Julio Tapia