Read Poem: DIVINE COMEDY, by Ron Kolm


Let’s take a walk
You said.
Okay, I said.
And here we are
High above the East River
On a pedestrian walkway
On the Triboro Bridge
Hiking from Astoria
To Randall’s Island
As rush-hour traffic
Streams by.
I hate my life
You say.
And I know
You’re not joking.
I wonder if you’re
Thinking of jumping
And what I would do
If you did.
It’s a long way down
To the tug
Pushing a barge
On fiery waters
As it disappears
Beneath the bridge.
Should I grab
For your arm
And probably die too
Or simply admit
I want to live
And let you fall.
It’s late afternoon
When we finally reach
Our destination
Descending a cement
Stairway that deposits us
Onto a parking lot
Near the Manhattan
Psychiatric Center.


We’re both too tired
To turn around
And walk back
Over the bridge.
The only other exit
Off this island
Is a narrow
Pedestrian overpass
That connects it
With Manhattan
But to get there
We have to cross
The grounds of the
Mental institution
And blocking our way
Is a guard in a booth.
You’re reporters!
He shouts at us,
Trying to do
Another fucking expose!
No, we protest,
We just want to get back
To the city so we can
Take a subway home.
He pats us down
And searches our bags
Then grudgingly waves us on.
It’s early evening now
And large bright lights
Come on, illuminating
Everything surreally.
We can clearly see inmates
Through plate-glass windows
In 1ow, ranch-styIe buildings
Watching TV.
If it weren’t
For the barbed-wire
You’d almost think
We were in suburbia.


Beyond the last building
The underbrush thickens
And the asphalt path
Is cracked and broken.
It’s pitch black —
A hot, humid night.
Indistinct shapes
Dart into the bushes
In front of us —
I take out
My Swiss Army Knife
All two inches of it
And flick it open
Just in case.
And, like that
We come upon
The other guard booth
Burnt out
And abandoned long ago.
I’m not feeling too good
But you grab my arm
And motion
To a string of lights
Rising above the trees
And I realize
It’s the footbridge.
As we step onto it
We’re almost swept away
By a wave of humanity
Swarming from Manhattan
Onto Randall’s Island —
A never-ending procession
Of shopping bag ladies
Sneaker kids, junkies
And sodacan collectors —
And we the only two leaving
Tired and relieved
And even perhaps vaguely
In love with each other.


Author: poetryfest

Submit your Poetry to the Festival. Three Options: 1) To post. 2) To have performed by an actor 3) To be made into a film.

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