Re-Imagining the Heights in Brooklyn
The sea particulates carrying salt
Wind and wounds blow in from the Atlantic
Along the limb of Long Island and over
The Brooklyn Bridge on which Walt Whitman
Is perched watching the broad backs of men
Marching to Manhattan, pick and hammer in hand,
Ready to put down rail in those catacombs
That begin and end in the beautiful mind.
This is the land of mirrors and reflections.
Brooklyn Heights that is barely
Above sea level is still stuck in the glare
Of the movie “Moonstruck,” where dogs howl
At the moon and the tribal machinery is still
At work behind the magnificent oaken doors
That stand guard along the tree-lined avenues.
I am knocking on doors at random, half
Expecting Nicholas Cage to appear pounding
The bitter end of a cow with a meat cleaver
But no, I see a sleek, black tandem bike ridden
In tight living room ovals by a Chinese guy
Who could be in a parade or a television commercial.
Around him are drawings of slipstreams and diminishing
Space curves as if someone who has just awoken from a dream
Is planning a trip to the moon.
Now the drawings seem to be
Of the human brain, perhaps from a science
Class showing the cross sections of a skull.
Directions for the visitor seem to be in hieroglyphics
That hint at a room for dreams, one for god talk
And the rest for number theory and ciphers.
Every pencil scratch and reiterative scuff
Mark holds hints of a voyage underway.
I see other huddles. A man who seems to be
Either a prophet or a custodian says first
We build Rome; then we put U.S. Marines
On the moon. An artist holds up
For universal inspection a sketch of what
Might be a church frieze or the first
Hints of a children’s book of bible verse.
I wander for some time through the comic book
Bubbles coming out of people’s mouths
And inside the cat’s cradle like constructions.
Artists are making with their hands promising
Endless ad hoc creativity or perhaps the end of the world.
Having taken my fill of this interior place
The prophet or custodian shows me to the door
And I am at sea level with both feet on the ground.
The poet Auden had lived in the Heights
And I recall his poem about the farmer hardly noticing
Icarus’ fall from the sky and the expensive delicate ship
After seeing this amazing deed
Was in a hurry and just sailed calmly on.