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7pm blue & Tropicana horizon.


Echo: passing jet.
One firefly.
Mary Anne waves “hello”.


A goat is eating my manuscripts









Albert Ayler


He saw flying saucers
sneaking past his younger
brother. He was projected across
a sense of declaration. He
assumed the fate of an alias
in modern times.

Born too late somewhere
near Cleveland. A hungry boy
staring at pies in
bakery plate glass. Then  
home: Navy beans pouring
out a dented boiler.

Every dime will exceed its
level. And dreams get
dislodged from the ebb
of actualities. Rising
method. A cure. The upright.
Some compositions based on the notion
that the continents were once
hinged together.

Culture reversed into
a displaced presence. You never
heard it different than another's
trance in the basement below
some chili joint. And now the gods
compete in Spelling Bees.
“I just  love to be astonished.”









Those Wacky Mennonites


                 He sat at the same table with me.
                 The table was a bulb.
                 A bulb is not an accident.
                 No accident: a system of counting
                 & like I said, we sat
                 at the same table, we spoke
                 of how we arrived
                 to a serious set of purposes                                        
                 "Would we get rich,” we wondered
                 & no accident to what that's all about.
                 He was careful. He painted the fenders
                 black to match his car. His hat seemed
                 a roof on his head. And I best remember him
                 bursting into the foyer, yelling about
                 something or other eschatological.
                 In the victim's absence,
                 he had his own partial history.









At The Bohemian Embassy


           Bare red balloon in the foyer
           She has no words except “I'll be there”.
           But what have I signed up for?
           Warps of estrangement?
          “Your paintings of mind-blistering cold snow...”
           Borrow what you can
           Night-kissing bitter Turkish cigarettes
           Of new information & the blur of freaked pigeons
           Your scheme to condo heating grates….
           Seems that nerves do the walking
           Or large as a lake that burned.









Port Authority Bus Terminal (1983)


Raymond Hood's lime ziggurat:
the McGraw-Hill building viewed
as a Thirties photon
from a cut-out in the North Wing's flank.
Hope's skylight proceeding from its builder's
vision and the surrounding
street a moat, marked with trash fires
of sullen purpose.










The mall that resembled a railroad roundhouse
moon over the PATH train escape hatch
America manages its oxygen here
Across the bay gothic Woolworth cathedral is soaked green & white
paid for in hard cash (& never held in a mortgage)   
same as Frank W. W.'s in-store credit policy

The presence of the train yards: the Pascack Valley Line's
last run heads out from Hoboken from under the cantilevered shed
and is this the backside of the Atlantic?

See five bridges from here:
                           Unknown once beauty-mark Bayonne Bridge
Up river’s still elegant Washington crossing
     Williamsburg Bridge in crumbles   Hegel-inspired Brooklyn span
Verrazano Narrows gap-filler    & monstrous Pulaski Skyway as once
endorsed by Woody Guthrie   leveled in Welles' radio  War of the World.

And as having undertaken to say this have said it
no fortune or burnt-out present
nor incumbent money-gods demanding pageants
Glimmer equations    specific healings/hearings
standing moonlit in the sight of heavy America

I could rule the world if I could only get the parts









Workshop of the Telescopes


Physical intoxication through rhythmic editing
A Martian-like tower seen in precise fog over Carteret
The syntax of property: the nation's blessing
The page no longer accepts native ink
This mind thought it politics
The pen won't reform its status
A substitute language reduces background noise

John Coltrane rides the elongated chord beyond sun dogs.










                           All public occasions:
                                          The private sink
                           emptying of nerves.
                                          A pizza oven
                           restores the street's balance
                                          it’s coal heat
                           cultivates second
                                           skins, & of dignitaries
                           in their undershirts
                                           crowding out these
                           songs, this dark
                                           saxophone music, the honest
                           thirst that
                                           popular taste
                           Broken voices
                                           The mirror's
                           bad dream
                                           sizes up
                           the surface
                                           the lives
                           spent in









         Democracy in the Dark


A rash of planes circling the valley
Ruptures twilight's efficient closure above
the Santa Susana Mountains. Now,
on to bed: the children. That
smell: watered mesquite embers. Somewhere
in the cleft above Tarzana archeology
and language exchange places every
ninety seconds. And that these hesitations
seem only bound books is a plain case
of mistakes or bare blunt sight.
Inauthenticity or a careless gardener
has sent the chaise lounge up in flames
and you know, even on my best behavior,
I get seasick in the rain.









August light diffused by morning schmutz haze
See the ultra white “Quantum of The Sea” lumber from its Bayonne moorings
“leave your air conditioner off & your window open  tonight!”
says a weathergal from her TV perch above the terminal’s Pick Six display
My dreamtime dissertation: “Capitalism & Freon”
Backpack latched on – I’m ready for avenues of anything lobbed my way:

TIDE instant stain remover    Imodium   inkball pen (Italian) filled
With purple ink   “I feel like a glass shrimp” show i.d. to move past door enforcers
Four kinds of fancy notebooks all sadly underused      new London Review of Books
Stray chapbook of John Godfrey   
& the new timetable to personal blankspots
                                                                                     of this Platinum Metropolis.

Shortly, to be back on a bus to the music of text tapping & motherless shouts.
Mazuma talks. Nobody wins. Some will be in “the gravy”. Others order dirt, off the menu.










Every single TV head
is talking “missing jet”
when all I can think about
is what fits
into the empty mitts
of dreamers.

In a shtetl long ago,
Jerome Rothenberg
told me: “A bad anthology
of Jewish poetry is like a burnt deli;
the waiters are slow, the Cel-ray is warm
and the smell of charred brisket
torments you.”

Oy. early morning’s fading dusk refuses
to pause. A bomb-sniffing dog
checks out my duck bag
and sends me on my way
across the blemished
waves of Buttermilk Channel.

Soon, Noah will haunt the screens
along with the scary
half-angel/half-guy Nephillim.

So, what shul did Noah
pay his Temple building fund dues to….?

“Don’t be silly, Yussef,” Jerry told me
as he unwrapped his tefillin, “ You see,
Noah was not burdened the way
we are:  he was a pre-Jew,  thus exempt
from the things that troubles us Yids.










Joel Lewis

JOEL LEWIS was born in Brooklyn back when the Dodgers were still the borough's state religion. Currently holding back the Hudson River in Hoboken. He is the author of five books of poetry, with a sixth, My Shaolin, due Spring 2016 from Kings County's Hanging Loose Press.


The Brooklyn Rail

SEPT 2015

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