The Tenant of Fire is about Queens, NY—its history, public and personal, real and imagined. Many of the people who populate this book—Irish Catholics, Italian-Americans—were once considered ethnic but now fall wholly under the banner of white. And from their anxieties a man like Donald Trump emerges. Born and raised in Queens, Trump is both the product and purveyor of a localized nativist politic.
The young white speaker of these poems works to record his parents’ and neighbors’, both white and of color, and his own attempts at navigating a shifting landscape. In poems on the homecoming of Vietnam vets, or the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, or the firebombing of Malcolm X’s house, The Tenant of Fire explores how and why the plurality of a place like Queens, where now nearly two hundred languages are spoken, is viewed as a threat to national security.
About the Author
Read an Excerpt
Home by the Sea I can’t turn around and put up a flag and say, “I have no place to go.” Chief Dennis Diggins Bureau of Waste Disposal, DSNY From bridge view, from snow-packed rock. Seagirt to West End. The crude signs nailed to garage doors, inked on windshields, Looters will be crucified. November: an Old World threat. A FEMA truck stutters by on a busted axle. Drywall, plumbing, dining set, bureau. Nine days passed. At Fitzgerald Gym, two mothers braid their children’s hair with Vaseline. On state-issued cots below the free throw line.
Table of ContentsContents Not Once Hypocrite Shoe The Rise of the Colored Empires The Brigadier and the Golf Widow This Is Cinerama Home by the Sea Skip to My Lou Compensation At Broad Channel At Steepletop When the World's on Fire On the Cooling Board Victory Field Why Bother? Via Negativa The Lemon Ice King Stagger Lee Ommie Wise The Conjurer An Offering of Steam In the Pines Motherless Children 4-A The Tenant of Fire : a sequence 1. Hawk-Man 2. Goodbye, Piccadilly 3. The Curtain 4. Duke Ellington, Live at the Aquacade 5. Nothing Beats a Fair 6. A Gun to the Heart of the City Notes Acknowledgments