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                                                                          Issue 8

Page 56

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A Saturday in New York

The sage would say there is an art
to walking Manhattan.

Each footstep has its reason
as the walker tracks a line of thought

through oncoming throngs
along the avenue at dusk.

Last evening another him
followed familiar shades,

unfamiliar faces contending
with powers that be

in suites above the silhouettes
of old-time coats and hats.

This city is always shrouded
in mist dismissing sunlight

as distraction from the living
things mankind create from dirt

for profit and amusement.
A statue of Prometheus is lit

for maximum gleam,
for those who find themselves

there one moment and gone the next
as though the gods would grant

day passes to enlightenment.
A true work of art always

at its cage door for escape
A great city scripts it walls

for a movie shot at dawn
when the streets are empty

excerpt for the girl on tiptoes
storefront in little black dress.

The walker stops at the entrance
to the park: abandon all polis?

The rain decides upon itself
as the city in tears.

The zoo's water draws him
to an unknown shore

where sea lions lie so content
they don't bother barking,

because no one's watching
from the gate but the walker

pausing to wonder why
the bull is staring him down,

trying to speak as though
an oracle of the sea,

revealing to the walker
that he is the walker

who's being left behind,
who must decide upon himself

as a city he can take in hand
and set beside the dying sage,

not some invisible city,
he no modern Marco Polo.

A sage would suggest that
every walk is a chance to transcend, the
Sixty-Sixth Street Transverse
a single idea of the noble path

to another potential
colony of companions.

Our walker heads instead for the Lawn,
the city's bare bosom bejeweled

with a necklace of lights he might steal
and sell to pledge a love

or save the lives of spirits
about to launch from canyons

as though the river begged the sage
to share the secret of a woman

cradling a baguette like
newborn philosophy.

The boathouse gondolas
have forsaken Venice.

They float on a wish to decode the
architects' new worlds rendered.

A ragged man on a bench takes a bite
of his soft pretzel, hums a tune

the walker would know if
he'd lived an imagined life.

Car horns devour melody,
spitting colors in the air.

The hungry man jumps genres,
paints his peace on darkened trees.

The walker sees only struggle
so returns to the streets

as careless of moments
as the universe singing,

deciding upon itself as the
sage's raging canvas.

At the hospital's doors, as though bronze,
he freezes to ponder limits:

outside, motion through invented time
inside, stasis waiting for a moment.

He enters the sage's room
where timelessness has sewn a shroud

in which the sage has wrapped himself,
quoting from scripture he once

The sage mumbles, rolling eyes
to heaven, I hope it isn't cold

in the grave and then, I shouldn't say that,
should I?
knowing I is vanishing

to escape the blame for drawing back
reason's fist about to land.

From the sage's window the walker
spots their very shadows

on the avenue, debating
the merits of masterpiece

left as trace of a truth
that no one's ever unearthed

as the sage bequeaths his shroud,
the map of city lost and found.

  George Guida

Poem Beginning with a Sunday in Fall

The games and dinners begin
  with words in agony.
I am no syllable
  on the dog’s walk
along a thin park trail,
  ahead a boy and mother
clear as branches
  when leaves give to wind,
paper cradles
  to infant ground.
The boy bears left
  five years too big
for training wheels,
  he hums a tune that swerves
with every pedal thrust.
We are unsounded
  warning. In his humming
I hear my son, see
  the smallness of a bed
where we lay to stop
  his tears, for a blood mother gone
the way of summer shade.
  They speak like the girl
without words. A woman after all,
  her wheelchair at the curb.
And the old man
  with grown son
he leads to the drug store,
  who won’t outlive that need.
Many times I thought
  to look their way,
close my eyes and beam
  a will to bud the twigs
and make the opposite of rain,
  as the boy rides on with face
upturned to the falling suicides.
  He waves the latest down,
which flutter as on he goes,
  and like the language of all grief
will never land.

  George Guida __

© Michael Lee Johnson: Open Eyes

© Michael Lee Johnson: Open Eyes

The Smokers

They know what they know
            on stoops,
            in windows
            and vestibules
They watch us pass,
            the people who have no time
            to sit on steps
            or yell from streets
            or knock on neighbors' doors.
They know what they know
            as the sun ticks higher
            and they find their shade.
They scan cell screens for news
            and some still read the papers.
They ignore addiction and disease.
They know what the world can do
            when you’re always running
            from one appointment
to the next.
They are a galaxy of answers
            as trails swirl over their heads
                 and the sun beats down
            from its highest point.
They complain about the heat and cold
            but don’t care enough
            to change their clothes.
Instead they sneer at people’s
            wardrobe shuffle
            from summer to fall,
            from Sunday to Monday,
            from noon to night,
            a sea of fabric
            they could set alight
            with flicks of ash.
They know what they know.
            The world is too safe
            today. All they hear is
            they’re supposed to quit
            everything they like
            as if they could
            block all sidewalks
            so no one could pass,
            as if they could change
            the sun’s course
            as it slips through the clouds.
They disappear a while
            but always come back,
            pounding packs into palms
            on their way to benches
            where they watch one another
            from afar for signs
            that what they’re doing is just
            a part of life.
They know what they know
            and wonder sometimes
            how they got here,
            until someone else walks by.
They are pure
            in their single mind.
They are here to get what they need
            to ease burdens
            and offer lights,
            to inhale the sweetest
            poisons of the day.

  George Guida__