Joshua Beckman

1971 / New Haven, Connecticut

Leave New York

Leave New York or the poem will kill you
Langston Hughes wrote $ $ $ to be black
and $ $ $ so, soaking soaking
'Sapwood posts are a little bit cheaper'...
'a little bit cheaper' just write it and
come to dinner, don't come to dinner
until you've written your poem 'cheaper
than heartwood I could' 'I could
have bought all the heartwood from the start'
the startling thing is that they send a man off
into the woods with nothing, that a man with everything
sends off into the woods and once there
says, I have made terrible mistakes
with my life, branch redeem me, fallen
bird redeem me, I have spent on walkmen
others have folded my laundry, dry leaves
dry branches a great fire to cook
a meal for you is the cook's pleasure
to skimp out on the waitress is a shame
no matter how broke you are fall to your knees
in front of the kettle fire on Lafayette
and beg forgiveness of the Waitress God
this sort of calamity will not be remedied
without drama please burning city sooty cinders
please, six dollars for every shelf
we have spices and more spices
eight dollars a trash can
garbage and more garbage

I can smell your pancakes
and I will take them away from you.
We sent him out to ride the subway
he did and he returned
...'Men have anger about everything'
and the elders nod wisely 'Men
have distrust about everything' and
the elders nod wisely 'Men see nothing
in front but the toll and the timeline'
the elders nod wisely
through his dreams
the subway is a dollar fifty
and a dollar fifty is nothing
the subway goes to Coney Island
the subway goes to Jamaica
the subway is so intricate
the masses the masses
You must leave us now to ride the subway
ride the subway leave us now, leaves are drying
leaves are falling, beautiful beautiful subway car
overground overground subway car, leave the city
and fall fall fall.
You are a dollar fifty Rent stabilize the elders
Damn and praise the elders
Do not spend $39.00 on the hand of the poet
Do not spend $1.00 on two scallion pancakes
Do not spend a fortune on the body of adonis
Damn the gym and the vendor
the city and its commerce
Do not ?ll your house with useless crap
Do not escape on a motorcycle
only to send rent checks back
Do not hail a ten dollar cab to blow off steam
and smoke his back seat up
and watch the meter jump by quarters
Do not spend $7.50 on axe handles by Gary Snyder
Do not spend $35.00 on the collected anyone
Do not e-mail yourself to the country from work
Do not bless the commuter train
or the krishnas selling oatmeal
Volcano of poverty
aftershock of small receipts
pay out a quarter
pay out a quarter
pay out a quarter
the next thing you're broke.
Gray building
between all the other buildings
suitcases on top of suitcases
on top of suitcases to the roof.

Climb and do not say I climb
reach the top and do not say
I have reached the top
accept the applause of the hot frying pan
as if it were the elders saying
we sent you out to the subway to the city
to the mean fatty world and we applaud
your success, and do not say I hear the elders,
I think I hear the elders.
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