Read Poem: PHOTOGRAPHING NEW YORK, by Cesare Bedogné

Like the agony of windows
in the fading red of a winter sun,
when free winds
sharpen boundless perspectives
of streets at dusk
and the lost Jew roves
the dismantled fairgrounds
of Coney Island:
his ample clothing
scattered in the evening…

Like an abandoned chair
in the rain of a Brooklyn dooryard,
under a beheaded tree
and a broken umbrella,
when the murky panes
of Chinese coin-op Laundromats
mirror women’s faces
between ice-crystals,
and the silence is a corpse
on the pavement of dawn…

Like a hooker’s green eyes
throwing flowers
among crashing stars
and flashing signs
in Times Square, when yellow taxis
drip blood at your doorstep
and Smyrna’s ill-fated exiles
cook octopus’ tentacles
on the fluorescent
grill of the night…

Like the clock’s hands
that stop dead
in the creaking alehouse
where you order a Budweiser —
in an intoxication of riddles —
while the wailing of a saxophone blows
from the cold chinks
of a bare Bowery garret
and the lame homeless man
lingers spellbound

Like the metropolitan angels
throwing themselves out
at the Queensboro Bridge,
before drowning in musty bookshops
or diners open 24 hours,
where disfigured Arabs fry rotten fish
in a desolation of chimneys — and you
take off your shoes
along the misty shores of Far Rockaway
and barefoot on the sand
of skimming shells…

Like a darkened door
nails you to the mystery of three dumb windows
screeching — Keep Off! — at number 219
of a street with no name (and indeed
one cannot enter,
not even with a pupil’s fragment,
an iris’ drop), but you set them on fire anew
in a blaze of silver nitrate
and then fly away
into the Harlem sky…

Like houses splintered
corroded condemned
among the rats and cat piss
of the Bronx,
when a solitary Puerto Rican sailor
sibilates secrets
into your armpit’s hollow
and anxiety vomits glassy nails
among filthy curtains, chicken’s feet
and basements of Belmont
or Van Nest…

Like in Williamsburg
along rusty railings — your own steps,
as ever, have led you
towards the sea — you suddenly discover
two windows in place of your eyes
and an empty laid table
in place of your heart,
while the vagabonds
spit shudders
in the nostalgia of an East River
which is no longer Canada, nor Alaska
and not even a flock
of returning birds…

Like sooty skeletons of rooms
behind the dim panes
of disused flophouses — confetti
on the floor and a green dragon’s
skin forgotten by maddened
migrants from Tangshan or Shanghai —
while suburban trains escape
towards a murmur of other oceans
leaving behind photographs out of focus
and clotted blood
on the tracks of Pennsylvania Station…

Or like a seagull’s shriek
between remote northern walls,
the diseased shadows
of a Dutch twilight
which you now remember,
remember, or the globe of fortune
at a crossroads
where no one will ever pass again,
no one — this grey crowd
and yet no one…

It remains thus unfathomable
and deserted New York
with its faces vanishing
in the night’s neon flashes:
it leaves you only with a shred of fog
and a stitch of exile,
like the gaze you have forgotten
at the window
between broken bricks
and iridescent circles
of gasoline.


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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