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Phillip Lopate describes the shape of Manhattan Island as‘a luxury liner, permanently docked, going nowhere’. This feeling of being tethered to the land, unable to get to sea, was a feature of New York life for much of the twentieth century. New York was an island without a coast. The West Side piers that once welcomed the Lusitania spent most of the twentieth century crumbling or behind barbed wire, while the East Side’s coves and points were cut off from pedestrians by six lanes of the Robert Moses-designed Franklin Delano Roosevelt Drive. It wasn’t much easier to reach the shores of Brooklyn, Queens or the Bronx, either: with a few exceptions, they were largely reserved for municipal or industrial use, and easiest to see from the Staten Island Ferry (en route to the borough with the most beaches). Now, slowly, the city is reclaiming its shoreline, with some spectacular results.

“Some Words...” by Sarah Passino

BODY OF WATER: East River

excerpts from “Some Words From 40-Some Days Before the Eclipse Translating Lorca’s Danza de la Muerte By Writing It In Rice Flour Around 40 Wall Street Like A Crab Or Like a Whale But For Sure For the Ants & For Sure For a Sum of the _Waste_”

 

//

thirteenth day

a loom
a rag
a rug

the sky
a skydyed
blue theres

always a ticket
says the man
taking tickets

 

 

 

//

eighteenth day

today it is 92 degrees
the long line for the rockaways
a woman says the city

takes seats from trains
to put on these boats & i know it
i know accountants back in my office

in the middle of america i had
a picture of the formula for capital
tacked up on the wall next to the

lightswitch & all day i drew data
maps on the walls in felt tip
of sons of mechanics

sons of farmers sons of army
down long low certificate
hallways past zinnia past red

mulch to gap factory back
the school & up to cricket front
circle circuit on the bottom

of each map i wrote what everyone
says who knows capitals not capital
in your pocket
so map so fable

so see it move from my window i
think the green lawn would look so
nice if we let grass grow long brown

 

 

 

//

nineteenth day

heat & no shade & no trees
& the street looks upside down
women wear floral shirts

a man hands me a one dollar bill
& both my shoes have holes in the sole
overdressed on south street

underdressed by front i walk up
the eight blocks south to front to water
to pearl to hanover to william to broad

to new to broadway to trinity trinity
is a church like a church is a king
soot refers to soot this town

was built wait slaves built this town
trinity owns this town & any whale
that washes up to 14th street but 14th

street keeps washing up slaves
built this street just below the land
of the blacks untribed by wall

or wolf free but for the wall
& the wolf i look at my uncles
cherokee feather want to ask

do we have some black blood do
we have indian blood but i know
the answer get home google 

sandals then womens cutest
sandals then cutest sexiest
sandals summer 17
& fall asleep

 

 

 

//

twentieth day

i wake up in the middle of the night
& look out & see B working still
on the couch say sorry I thought  

your foot was a goose & fall
back asleep which i don’t remember
til he tells me in the morning

laughing on his way in the shower
i fry eggs crack rind watermelon write

ants see ants/ whale sea whale/ ants see whale

on scraps of paper & read it to him
through the bathroom door he trades
one year for 150000 dollars & i stay

making breakfast read him scraps
of poems & tonight i walk from wall
street to the hudson where a poet 

tells me the constraint is where
the ecstatic come from
& i remember
J telling me about that poem thats just

a list of names z is a rich poet y is a rich poet x
is a rich poet
& at home livings the constraint
but here           maybe i just cant see them yet

a german poet tells me writing in english
is her constraint and i wonder where she
got her earrings & if i wrote in other

languages would i be able to write about
more beautiful things battery park is full up of
fireflies & men with clipboards looking up

from artillery to tops of buildings scraping
that sky tonight that all look like jewel boxes &
the breeze is so nice & i can see from one scale

to the other from here remember the night
at home fireflies synchronize their firefly
lights & how big all of us get how limitless

for a flash & at rest & loose & solvent

 

 

 

//

twenty-fourth day

the water is rough
& mystics is just another
way to say famous

what did lorca know about
a man turned to thing of waste
A blasts out from blackallacia

yo this is what it looks like wipipo
when you throw your people away

& in brooklyn ten of us on a roof

worth all together in dollars
a hundred million dollars
& drinking smokey mezcal

one as a boy watched a french painter
paint his silk walls & who would not know
that now he decides things with money

one makes 40000 in dollars for one night
to take one picture to post so far my lorca

The pepper trees up and died
taking their light-lit little berries
Camels, flesh-lashed, left too
and the cob swan lifts the white sky in his beak

It was a time for brittle things
the firefox-scratched eye, the laminated cat
the decayed iron of the great bridges
and the perfect silence because cork

in white ink unless this is printed on black
paper then it is my Lorca in black & since
it cant come through i can say it plain

the water is rough today theres no away
away today all the jokes are in red
& of course in due course all comes back

 


Sarah Passino is a Nashville poet living in Brooklyn. Recently, her work has appeared in Broome Street Review, Poetry Daily, and The Hopkins Review and was awarded the Rachel Wetzsteon Poetry Prize for the 92nd Street Y. She writes occasional Tiny Letters about writing days, bread committees, and what love looks like in public. She has worked as a professor, an organizer, and currently works as an editor. She is on instagram @Small Takes.