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.

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