New York Anonymous

Rules of Conduct

On the lower level
of Grand Central,
do not stand, sit, or sleep
on the railings. On the rails.
Do not create
any unusual noise.
Do not rummage.
Do be appropriately dressed.
Do be in awe
of what you find above.

Punk Island

Punk bands take over
Governor’s Island.
A dozen stages.
Dueling layers
of 100-second songs.
Accidentally melodic
intros get swiftly erased
by aggressive shout singing
that falls apart
before it begins. Pogoing
slam dancers run
around and into
one another
in a strangely uniform
loop. Punk square
dancers on the Parade Ground.

We’re so ‘n’ so
from New Jersey.
Sorry we’re late.
Our muffler fell off.

Truth is like poetry.
People hate poetry.
Punk lyrics crumble
so easily when actually heard.
Please kill me
becomes merely—please.

Lost and Found

The key you lost—
that led to security coming
to unlock your hotel room door—
isn’t lost at all.
It’s in the back zipper pocket
of your running shorts.
You’re going to have to try harder
to get lost.

Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass

Inside the tiny poetry
bookshop, it rattles
like a story told slowly
on a fast-moving train—
an elevated Q
that thunders across
the tracks overhead.

On Line

Two lines form
on the landing.
A man asks what for.
You reply:
The left one is for
the Midtown East Ferry.
The right for
who knows.
You stand on the right
because sometimes
you don’t want to try
to control your destiny.
You stand there proudly
in the glow of letting go.

At the last possible moment,
you slide under
the stanchion chain
and follow the left queue.
You’re left-handed.
Isn’t that out of control enough?

Local Not Express

The ferry stops
at every once and future
hip riverfront hood
In Brooklyn and Queens
before eventually docking
at the East 34th Street Terminal.

As you recover
your land legs,
you wonder where
you might have gone instead.

Tatsuo Miyajima’s “Arrow of Time (Unfinished Life)”

We’re all damaged,
stained with life’s spills
and moments
we think we’re drowning
not waving.

You realize you must stand
beneath each LED-lit 8
before it flips
into another number
or shuts off completely.
Before you realize you must
pass through each sequence
of breathing as an unfinished
animated sculpture.

Before you realize the absence
of zero is a deliberate gesture
that admits the impossibility
of a true tabula rasa.
Before, during, after
another trip to New York
briefly illuminates the sky
as a shooting star.

Even if every person you see
walking on the sidewalk,
waiting on the subway platform,
riding a jam-packed train,
running along the bridle path
in Central Park,
knows every other person in The City,
you got what you always said
you wanted—anonymity.

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