One of the Many Reasons I Love New York

Super Bowl Sunday  I don’t watch the Super Bowl

Peter does I often go to the movies but this year my neighbors

in this building even longer than I am

forty years my neighbors two men whose small rent stabilized one bedroom apartment

is many new shades of blue dark red door painted furniture every part of every wall

adorned with paintings and lights and mysterious objects

Costa Rican named Stefan who dances, once had a restaurant in the village ,

partner a handsome Greek  they hand me a glass

of red wine one says my sister’s two sons were both in wild love fights

in Venezuela he tells the story many of the usual

good details Sex Love even some Venezuelan politics after the evening

of sitting in their magic blue room right across the hall

they say come  back.  There’s  always more.

 

Long White Silk

When we write down what happened

and what didn’t we have the opportunity

to tell the story we want  yesterday

Lawrence Kempf said that he had a friend

a patient actually she became a friend ninety four had breast cancer knew

she was going to die so she called her old boyfriend

in San Francisco said she’d like to spend one more

week with him she put herself together bought

a new nightgown he came for a week they ordered in

French food if I were writing the story

said Lawrence Kempf the nightgown would be

long white silk.

Iowa (or Caucuses)

Iowa sits between the Missouri

and the Mississippi  rolling plains

cornfields wild canary state bird

wild rose the flower

what we know and what we don’t

mostly Republicans there some Democrats

Iowa where candidates run

maybe the Presidential nominee

poll said  half the country doesn’t know

their names  rest of us watch obsessively

what can we do what should we do

what does it mean to save this country

how can we just watch Iowa just watch

what happens how can we just watch.

 

 

Beach House (2)

Our green house sat on top of a sea wall

on a rocky stretch of the Long Island sound.

Water was always right outside. . Life was unstructured,

entirely simple. I was happy there.  Boxed cereal raisin bran especially

and then I’d pick up my friend Abby and we would play all day.

Stopping for lunch at 12 o’clock at our separate houses: salami sandwiches

small glasses of juice.  Abby was a wonderful swimmer,

graceful and elegant.  She could glide through water.  I was

not but I loved water and could stay in for many hours.

making up stories and trying to write them down.  I wrote

on anything.  Even rocks.  Many of the stories centered around

Joanie Mendlestein, our actual neighbor, older than we were. She

was dating with the intention of Finding a Husband and that’s what

I called the stories.  More or less half true.  Morris spelled

his name Maurice but she called him Moe.  He was mustachioed.    Maurice was

a dentist and a sculptor who told jokes.  Joanie called him  appropriate.

Appropriate was not the same as love.  Her parents owned a small

hardware store.  They said appropriate was  good.   Henry who I

mostly invented was more handsome than Moe.  He played Cole Porter.

studied literature in college,   ran his father’s prop store business,

writing a novel once in a while.  Henry wore corduroy  though it was summer.

Once I wrote that he kissed her goodnight on the seawall in front of her

house.  Joanie went inside and said to her mother Maybe This is It and her

mother said God Willing.  I ended the story there.

 

 

Where I Come From (Another Poem Story) part one

My father, quiet, considered, funny enough

a man named Meyer, went to Cornell in 1924.

Graduated pre med with every intention of going

to Yale Medical School.  At his interview a man

named William Butler said this sentence:

The Jewish Quota is Full.  So my father moved

to New York City got an apartment and a research job.

A while later, after the Army (New Zealand Australia

Guinea Bisseau  some out of focus black and white

pictures) after he’d started some businesses,

one was wholesale candy and he loved candy, he went back

to the small town in Connecticut where he was born to take over his father’s

Men’s Clothing store.  Oscar Cohen’s.  His father was born

in Lithuania.  Maybe Vilna maybe not.  His mother from Bobpst,

in the Ukraine.  He married my mother, then decided, with his

college roommate Solly Stein, to buy a beach house together

for the summers.  A big green wooden duplex on top of a cement

sea wall right on the Jewish beach of Woodmont, Connecticut.

Adjacent to Italians.  Solly and his family were right next door.

Solly was an inventor.  He invented a machine that blew out hot air

on hands in public bathrooms.  He married an ambitious woman

named Elaine.  She dyed her hair white blonde, played golf, and

frequently mentioned her unchanging weight: 111 pounds exactly.

Her motto:  She did not eat desserts.  My mother dyed her hair

dark brown.  She referred to the color as Chestnut.  She was not

thin, did not play golf, and spent much of her time reading library books

on our screened in porch.  Mostly Jewish novels like Marjorie Morningstar.

She did not exercise ever.  The two women did not get along.

After a few years the Steins moved out.  Elaine told my mother

that our house was nowhere.  My mother said to us at dinner Good Riddance.

 

THE MAN AT THE AIRPORT WHO CHECKS YOU IN THE FUNNY GLASS BOOTH

THE MAN AT THE AIRPORT WHO STANDS OFFICIALLY

IN FRONT OF THE GLASS BOOTH WHERE PASSENGERS

STAND ON YELLOW FOOTPRINTS AND RAISE YOUR HANDS

ABOVE YOUR HEAD THE MAN AT THE AIRPORT WHO

MAKES SURE YOU ARE NOT BRINGING WEAPONS  BOTTLED WATER

OR OTHER UNFORTUNATE OBJECTS ONTO THE PLANE HIS NAME

WAS JUAN HE ACTUALLY SAID TO ME WHAT’S WITH

YOUR OUTFIT AND I DID NOT WANT TO SAY WHAT’S WITH

YOURS ALTHOUGH HE LOOKED AS PECULIAR AS I DID

I SAID THIS IS AN ISRAELI COAT DRESS AND A CAMBODIAN

SCARF THEY WERE BOTH AN UNUSUAL COLOR GREEN AND HE SAID

WHAT’S A COAT DRESS AND I SAID IT’S A DRESS REALLY HOW’S THAT

AND HE SAID WELL AT LEAST TAKE OFF THE SCARF WHO CARES

WHERE IT’S FROM AND I SAID I DO AND HE TOOK MY SCARF

AND PUT IT RIGHT INTO A GREY BIN WHERE IT WENT THROUGH

THE X RAY MACHINE NO PROBLEM AND THEN GAVE ME THE ONCE OVER

WITH HIS OFFICIAL EQUIPMENT AND THEN ONE LAST DIRTY LOOK

BEFORE TELLING ME TO HAVE A GOOD TRIP.

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