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Ode To The Upper West Side

June 25, 2011 in Poets At Work

ode to the upper west side

By Matthew Abuelo




What do you see?
What do you see?
What do you see when you lift the drawn shades?
What kills your reluctance
to performing without
the fear of riding the
express line to common bathrooms
in dead residences.
All of those around you were born
in the season of genius.

Bernie the crier still performs his gimmicks on his knees
in mid-town
as an intrusion to
the senses of all the beautiful people
who smile lightly behind drawn shades.
He can turn the tears
on and off
to attract the tourists
for a quick dollar
or the remains of one’s dinner.

This game does not work
in the Subways
where everything is allowed
but nothing is permitted
and the conductors become ghosts
of the tubes vanishing into the brief points of light
from the A Train.

Zoe is at it again
walking her dogs for pay
keeping her ear to the concrete
to hear the drum beat of
another developer
whose only love
is to pave over
those who made the scene
and knew how to play the part.
She seems so out of place
she feels like a guest in her own skin
waiting for the eviction notice
and the coming
of the true owner of her body
who seems to have been gone
far too long
like the wandering Jew.
Zoe still
throws her fortunes to a theater
of incense,
and an audience who lives on their knees
whose minds expand
into their
guru’s dark room
and burn themselves
into photographs
where the pain
is still
in time
only to drift into the Hudson
riding the tides
beyond the grid
of West 86th Street to
The chimes promised transcendence
those inside
that temple
only found wings
which carried them to
otherwise empty staircases
which do not care for
your coming
or going
don’t make too much noise
because unlike
each stair
your neighbors do not sleep to hide your presence
but slowly grow mad
while living as shut-ins
in their rooms.
This show is not new
it’s old
There are no marquees
or the bright lights of Broadway
only the silent testimonies
of those who sold out
to the brown and tattooed thumb of the Guru Mai.
But Zoe will always surrender to
the hotel that took her beauty
as she smiles after being left behind.
Her face will never dissolve from here
like gray smoke in a rain storm
but it will remain like a finger print in time
which governs where she lives.

Karen still is stuck out on the island
where the fury of Ennui
which breeds at the cellular level
turning all female minds numb
and used
giving boredom color and weight.
Love here will always turn back on you
like a wild animal that you trusted too long.
In this waste land
all identities and
the pain of being human
break at the property line
and roll back in the waves

I’m the room
down the hall
Images and Ideas
are stored like newspapers strewn along the floor
and cracked 45s
the kept us all company when
radio died.

This ceiling is designed
for fly paper chandeliers
which secures the last outbreak
Of each year
That comes as a farewell to the summer
And welcomes in the fall.

Each story belongs
to everyone one I’ve stolen from
with a pen or a keyboard.
There is too much stored here to forget
the connections have dried up
since we left for Washington Heights
where the real rent
is the payment that the gringo must
pay for his anonymity.
No one here has a name
and the only thing left
is to
pass like a dead jelly fish into the sea.
This room has grown cold
all the radiators bled
and everything saved
frozen in time.
This is preservation
turning all ideas
as pure as photographs taken
on the last ship
to Ellis Island.
that’s where it all breaks down
turning everything you know to ruin.
The only thing I release from these doors which have formed
two lips under a mustache and beard
are dormant ideas
that gasp to be known
on the sidewalks
at readings
never in universities
where only winter
is the season which meets these words
and sentences never form in the frozen air
of politeness.

There is a price for staying too long
in this place
to consume the images of those
who will impose the hell
of needing you
the cruelest of all animals
to watch your vanishing
complexities as they disappear
into the rooms of shut-ins.
The hours of isolation
which we hold between our thighs
are plucked from our day
by the friendliest
There is no color of being used
only the gray winter of
writers block

Do you know this dance?
Never to be sold
there is no money to
be made here.
I’ll take the book seller
who sits by the curb
or the hoarder who hasn’t been seen for six days.
You can take the clubs
the sweets and the over priced rooms
you take the con which comes through in
the waves of ads
Movies made for those
who only know how to be truly strange
behind drawn shades.

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