A New York Song of Myself

April 3, 2012
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I celebrate the earth,
The little bits I have seen of it, though my views have been contained…
I celebrate what I know, what is familiar to me.
The sixteen years of busy streets, honking horns, burning rubber.
The sixteen years of my city –
It keeps my world together but it breaks others apart.

I live and breathe the air of the greatest metropolis on planet earth.
It is dirty air, filled with the exhalations of the multitudes.
We live in stacks, one on top of another,
But somehow I do not feel cramped.
Somehow I have an infinite amount of space.
Ten levels lie below me,
Millions seem to lie above me,
And the treetops shine from out of my windowsill…

It is my city…
My hellish refuge and quiet insanity.
The sounds and sights are comforting – can you now see?
Because the city never sleeps, I can.

The comforting noise of traffic, sirens, chaos,
It is relaxing.
And now, finally, I feel home.

My city… with treetops, and old buildings, and bikes, and doormen…
It is different from his city, with traffic, and lights, and stages, and stress…
And her city, with art, and no money, and cramped apartments…

And the city of Bergdorf, and Bloomingdales and Barneys and Bendels…
That gilded age dying culture,
The Ladies who Lunch and the Men in Suits.
They parade down 5th, and Madison and Park and Lexington
Passed sweet roasted peanuts, and glass glistening store windows.
The dyes, the faux, the youth, the Botox, all pass you on the street.

Go to Lexington, get on the subway – go further downtown.
14th St. Station, with the performers looking to make a buck.
They sing out,
“Let it be, let it be, let it be, let it be. Whisper words of wisdom. Let it be.”
Passed the homeless in the corner, muttering incoherently,
Out of the station’s foul-smelling depth, into the lights and signs.
Dreads, rips, tattoos, piercings, weed, plaid.
It’s a different world down here;
This part of the city isn’t dying – it’s always beginning.
Look around - be on your guard. It’s a break from your norm.

Now back uptown, to the treetops, old buildings, bikes and doormen.
Uptown to young mothers with curly hair and baggy clothes, who shop organic,
And shield their kids from the dreaded world of the east.

I live in a bubble where everyone seems to know everyone.
Small world, but the city still seems gargantuan…

Sometimes the world spins,
And the big sidewalks are a challenge to navigate.
I focus on my steps. One foot in front of the other.
Left, right. Left, right. Left, right.
I walk faster – it always helps if you move. Fast…

Then life starts moving fast, and in an instant it’s winter again.
It starts to snow, and the cycle of chaos, to calm, to chaos begins.
Taxis slide, buses close, subways crowd.
The city becomes immobile as melting white covers the pavement.
The treetops are white - covered by a layer of untouched powder.
By night, the city streets will be black again – covered in greyish slush,
And the sides of the streets will be piled high with yellow-black melting beauty.

For and instant, the city is quiet,
For an instant, no one dares move.
But nothing can stay pristine and white for long,
The black sidewalks will return, and the city speeds again.

Taxis honk, buses sigh, subways rumble.
My world is back together – the city is awake again.
And I can sleep.

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