Read an Excerpt
Waking in Greenpoint in Late August
We wanted so much that there be a world as we lay naked on our gray-striped mattress,
staring up at a trowel mark on the eggshell-blue ceiling and waiting, waiting for twilight, darkness, dawn,
marriage, the child, the hoarse names of the city—
let there be a universe in which these lovers can wash at the pearling spigot, and lick each other dry.
A Night in Brooklyn
We undid a button,
turned out the light,
and in that narrow bed we built the great city—
water towers, cisterns,
hot asphalt roofs, parks,
septic tanks, arterial roads,
Canarsie, the intricate channels,
the seacoast, underwater mountains,
bluffs, islands, the next continent,
using only the palms of our hands and the tips of our tongues, next we made darkness itself, by then it was time for daybreak and we closed our eyes until the sun rose and we had to take it all to pieces for there could be only one Brooklyn.
After work I’d go to the little bars along the bright green river, Chloe’s Lounge,
Cloverleaf, Barleycorn, it was like dying to sit at five p.m. with a Bud so cold it had no taste, it stung my hand,
when I returned home I missed my keys and rang until my wife’s delicate head emerged in her high window and retreated like a snail tucked in a luminous shell—
I couldn’t find my wallet, or my paycheck,
though I drank nothing, only a few sips that tasted like night air, a ginger ale,
nevertheless a dozen years passed, a century,
always I teetered on that high stool while the Schlitz globe revolved so slowly,
disclosing Africa, Asia, Antarctica,
unfathomable oceans, radiant poles,
until I was a child, they would not serve me,
they handed me a red hissing balloon but for spite I let it go, for the joy of watching it climb past Newton Tool & Die,
for fear of cherishing it, for the pang of watching it vanish and knowing myself both cause and consequence.
From the Hardcover edition.