QUEENSBORO: Even When We Know, What Do We Know?

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QUEENSBORO: Even When We Know, What Do We Know?

The tune is always the same. 
Some of the moon has fallen to earth, 
and New Yorkers are using it to build 
stairs up to a temple in the sky, 
and steps down to where 
the subway flies or crawls 
on its stomach like a rat 
sniffing out a piece of cheese. 

QUEENSBORO: Even When We Know, What Do We Know?

The human condition long ago 
floated down the East River, 
out into the harbor then out 
to the Atlantic where 
it was mistaken for 
a Coney Island hotdog stand 
released from its moorings, 
unhinged from that 
crowded beach of souls 
searching for 
a good therapist with some idea 
of what might be stuffed 
into those meaty cylinders, 
though sometimes a dog is just a dog. 

And who did bring the dog to this party? 
Who owns the haunted howling 
in a landscape of chimneys, 
bricks shaped to contain 
shelter as much as incineration. 
Dreams like armor 
polished to reflect 
the unleashed melodies of fire, 
the silent shining of ice. 
We are always possessed by our surroundings. 
If someone holds out the brass ring, 
we're going to grab it even if it is 
a crown of thorns. 

Even if the latest gadgets are 
nailed onto our palms, 
text, images, numbers, colors, 
flowing into us through the needle and the nail. 
We will gaze at the intersection, 
waiting for the green and red 
to direct us, forward, back, 
high, low, buy, sell. 

We have always had our eyes 
locked onto that terminal, 
even when it was a view of 
the ancient sky, 
wind in branches swaying, 
a painting appearing 
for 10,000 years 
in that light shooting arrows 
toward the spoken walls of a cave. 
Our brains and bodies 
forever subterranean and 
forever seeking some way 
to leave this earth 
with one foot staying on the floor. 

The world will appear and disappear 
many times before we ourselves 
take that journey promised to us 
even before we knew 
there were eight million stories 
in the naked city seeking 
to clothe itself in some 
slight wisdom not warm enough 
to keep hands from shivering, 
palms turned upward to receive 
the mortal and immortal gift 
of enough change to buy 
a hot cup of coffee.