Thursday, March 21, 2019

“Under thy shadow by the piers I waited..” A Mosh Pit in Brooklyn, A Poetry Reading in the Lower East Side, Looking at the Bridge

above and below.
a mosh pit in brooklyn, a poetry reading in the lower east side.

“Just imagine looking out your window directly on the East River with nothing intervening between your view of the Statue of Liberty, way down the harbour, and the marvelous beauty of Brooklyn Bridge close above you on your right! All of the great new skyscrapers of lower Manhattan are marshaled directly across from you, and there is a constant stream of tugs, liners, sail boats, etc in procession before you on the river! It’s really a magnificent place to live. This section of Brooklyn is very old, but all the houses are in splendid condition ....”

-          Hart Crane to his mother and grandmother in the spring of 1924.

We all cross the bridge in our own ways, each generation does, making our way from Brooklyn to Manhattan, vice versa, walking with the gods, the visitors from parts unknown,  the cars to the left, the cyclists to the right, careening between people starring at the city.  Riding I look down  at the sun sparkling  in  the water, feeling gravity pull me, wondering if the wood will remain, will I’ll ride through the sky, careening into the water?

Whitman wrote about his journeys here, Crossing Brooklyn Ferry.

“Flood-tide below me! I see you face to face!
Clouds of the west—sun there half an hour high—I see you also face to face.

Crowds of men and women attired in the usual costumes, how curious you are to me!
On the ferry-boats the hundreds and hundreds that cross, returning home, are more curious to me than you suppose,
And you that shall cross from shore to shore years hence are more to me, and more in my meditations, than you might suppose.”

Here and there, we cross, from land to water, city to city, borough to  borough, country to country, Brooklyn to Manhattan, through time, Ohio to New York, Brooklyn to Paris and back.

It was all  fine and good to be an ex pat there with Djuna Barnes and Gertrude Stein.  But no fun when the bar tab came.
 Hart Crane found out, spending six days in jail, protesting his bill.

Paris back to New York.

Finishing the Bridge.

Another magnificent failure, joining Melville and Kafka, transforming consciousness, to little acclaim in his own time.
That only comes after were gone.

New York to Mexico, another tide, another transformation.

April 27, 1932, Hart Crane hurled himself into the Gulf of Mexico. "Goodbye, everybody!" witnesses testified, as he big them adieu.

To the Lower East Side from Brooklyn, I take the bike  friendly Manhattan Bridge,  instead of the Brooklyn Bridge I ride to City Hall and Wall Street Demos.

Sun’s shining on  the Lower East  Side, I park at the Lower East Side Ecology Center on East 7th, where we’re  reading.

Meeting at 2, reading at 330.

Or perhaps that was  starting at 330 and  reading who  knows when on  Saturday?

Brennan’s last party had  morphed  from dancing to record playing  to poetry reading.
Brennan  read from his James Franco collection that  Saturday night.
People were running  late so we chat.
Marlene talks  about her favorite poems from Robert Kelly and John Weiners,
Not Complete is Brennan’s favorite.

“I have a thing about James Franco,” notes Brennan,  reading  untitled, like  a beat poet.

The Dunio Elegies by Rainer Maria Rilke is Marlene’s favorite:

“Perhaps there remains
some tree on a slope, that we can see
again each day: there remains to us yesterday’s street,
and the thinned-out loyalty of a habit
that liked us, and so stayed, and never departed.”

Someone suggests we read;

The Ballad Of The Hanged Men

By François Villon:

“Men my brothers who after us live,
have your hearts against us not hardened.
For—if of poor us you take pity,
God of you sooner will show mercy.
You see us here, attached.
As for the flesh we too well have fed,
long since it's been devoured or has rotted.
And we the bones are becoming ash and dust.

Rain has washed us, laundered us,
and the sun has dried us black.
Worse—ravens plucked our eyes hollow
and picked our beards and brows…”

Hart Crane is on everyone’s mind.
We read
“At Melville's Tomb”
Its last lines:
“No farther tides . . .
High in the azure steeps Monody shall not wake the mariner.
This fabulous shadow only the sea keeps..”

An ephemeral feeling grasps us.

People start dropping by.

Brennan’s making everyone a Cuttle Sark.
Its Hart Crane’s favorite drink, he regales us. 
The bard drank it in Marseilles, where he confessed he, “slept with his thirty sailors and he began again to drink Cutty Sark."

The conversation  turns to Whitman,  backwards glances, meeting friends along the waterfront, the sailors on the  docks, at the piers.

And to Crane reimagining the Wasteland. He moved  to New York to rep after  college.
He’s an ecstatic writer, connecting everything in his life, the water, the reflections of the sun, the poems, the tides, Whitman, even eternity with a moment under the piers where he waited, wrote poems in his mind.

Its five PM.
We’re about to start reading.
The buzzer  rings.
Brennan gets up and makes another Cutty Sark.
Tells the story again.
We’re about to start the poem.
The buzzer rings again.
More introductions.
We read:

“The Bridge: To Brooklyn Bridge How many dawns, chill from his rippling rest The seagull's wings shall dip and pivot him, Shedding white rings of tumult, building high Over the chained bay waters Liberty-- Then, with inviolate curve, forsake our eyes As apparitional as sails that cross Some page of figures to be filed away; --Till elevators drop us from our day . . . I think of cinemas, panoramic sleights With multitudes bent toward some flashing scene Never disclosed, but hastened to again, Foretold to other eyes on the same screen; And Thee, across the harbor, silver-paced As though the sun took step of thee, yet left Some motion ever unspent in thy stride,-- Implicitly thy freedom staying thee! Out of some subway scuttle, cell or loft A bedlamite speeds to thy parapets, Tilting there momently, shrill shirt ballooning, A jest falls from the speechless caravan. Down Wall, from girder into street noon leaks, A rip-tooth of the sky's acetylene; All afternoon the cloud-flown derricks turn . . . Thy cables breathe the North Atlantic still. And obscure as that heaven of the Jews, Thy guerdon . . . Accolade thou dost bestow Of anonymity time cannot raise: Vibrant reprieve and pardon thou dost show. O harp and altar, of the fury fused, (How could mere toil align thy choiring strings!) Terrific threshold of the prophet's pledge, Prayer of pariah, and the lover's cry,-- Again the traffic lights that skim thy swift Unfractioned idiom, immaculate sigh of stars, Beading thy path--condense eternity: And we have seen night lifted in thine arms. Under thy shadow by the piers I waited; Only in darkness is thy shadow clear. The City's fiery parcels all undone, Already snow submerges an iron year . . . O Sleepless as the river under thee, Vaulting the sea, the prairies' dreaming sod, Unto us lowliest sometime sweep, descend And of the curveship lend a myth to God.”

He started at the end with Atlantis.
Thinking about Whitman’s trips across the Brooklyn ferry, he was ecstatic, channeling energy in his alchemy of words, the steam pipes, the men, go to the river, you will feel them,  the metaphysical; its his phenomenology of consciousness, weaving his internal  recordings of the sun, the birds,  the reflection in the water, the people flowing from one world to another, across the ocean, coming and going.

Navigating between here and there, like Rip Van Wrinkle, walking into an alien world, between  past and future, groggy from a dream.

On finding America, in a cafe, in a myth between here and here, voicing aligning.

“The Bridge: Atlantis

Through the bound cable strands, the arching path Upward, veering with light, the flight of strings,— Taut miles of shuttling moonlight syncopate The whispered rush, telepathy of wires. Up the index of night, granite and steel— Transparent meshes—fleckless the gleaming staves— Sibylline voices flicker, waveringly stream As though a god were issue of the strings. . . . And through that cordage, threading with its call One arc synoptic of all tides below— Their labyrinthine mouths of history Pouring reply as though all ships at sea Complighted in one vibrant breath made cry,— “Make thy love sure—to weave whose song we ply!” —From black embankments, moveless soundings hailed, So seven oceans answer from their dream. And on, obliquely up bright carrier bars New octaves trestle the twin monoliths Beyond whose frosted capes the moon bequeaths Two worlds of sleep (O arching strands of song!)— Onward and up the crystal-flooded aisle White tempest nets file upward, upward ring With silver terraces the humming spars, The loft of vision, palladium helm of stars. Sheerly the eyes, like seagulls stung with rime— Slit and propelled by glistening fins of light— Pick biting way up towering looms that press Sidelong with flight of blade on tendon blade —Tomorrows into yesteryear—and link What cipher-script of time no traveller reads But who, through smoking pyres of love and death, Searches the timeless laugh of mythic spears. Like hails, farewells—up planet-sequined heights Some trillion whispering hammers glimmer Tyre: Serenely, sharply up the long anvil cry - The World's Poetry Archive 37 Of inchling aeons silence rivets Troy. And you, aloft there—Jason! hesting Shout! Still wrapping harness to the swarming air! Silvery the rushing wake, surpassing call, Beams yelling Aeolus! splintered in the straits! From gulfs unfolding, terrible of drums, Tall Vision-of-the-Voyage, tensely spare— Bridge, lifting night to cycloramic crest Of deepest day—O Choir, translating time Into what multitudinous Verb the suns And synergy of waters ever fuse, recast In myriad syllables,—Psalm of Cathay! O Love, thy white, pervasive Paradigm . . . ! We left the haven hanging in the night Sheened harbor lanterns backward fled the keel. Pacific here at time’s end, bearing corn,— Eyes stammer through the pangs of dust and steel. And still the circular, indubitable frieze Of heaven’s meditation, yoking wave To kneeling wave, one song devoutly binds— The vernal strophe chimes from deathless strings! O Thou steeled Cognizance whose leap commits The agile precincts of the lark’s return; Within whose lariat sweep encinctured sing In single chrysalis the many twain,— Of stars Thou art the stitch and stallion glow And like an organ, Thou, with sound of doom— Sight, sound and flesh Thou leadest from time’s realm As love strikes clear direction for the helm. Swift peal of secular light, intrinsic Myth Whose fell unshadow is death’s utter wound,— O River-throated—iridescently upborne Through the bright drench and fabric of our veins; With white escarpments swinging into light, Sustained in tears the cities are endowed And justified conclamant with ripe fields Revolving through their harvests in sweet torment. Forever Deity’s glittering Pledge, O Thou Whose canticle fresh chemistry assigns To wrapt inception and beatitude,— Always through blinding cables, to our joy, Of thy white seizure springs the prophecy: Always through spiring cordage, pyramids Of silver sequel, Deity’s young name Kinetic of white choiring wings . . . ascends. Migrations that must needs void memory, Inventions that cobblestone the heart,— Unspeakable Thou Bridge to Thee, O Love. Thy pardon for this history, whitest Flower, O Answerer of all,—Anemone,— Now while thy petals spend the suns about us, hold— (O Thou whose radiance doth inherit me) Atlantis,—hold thy floating singer late! So to thine Everpresence, beyond time, Like spears ensanguined of one tolling star That bleeds infinity—the orphic strings, Sidereal phalanxes, leap and converge: —One Song, one Bridge of Fire! Is it Cathay, Now pity steeps the grass and rainbows ring The serpent with the eagle in the leaves. . . . ? Whispers antiphonal in azure swing. Harold Hart Crane”

We along,  rapt.
Thinking about Macbeth.

“Tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow,
Creeps in this petty pace from day to day,
To the last syllable of recorded time;
And all our yesterdays have lighted fools
The way to dusty death.”

Barbara and Judy chat a way with Drew.

Brennan reads Weiners,
Walking our parents  to bed,
Where they pass out.
That feels familiar me. 

Whisky is pouring.

Exquisite corpses are everywhere.
No one knows  the rules. 

Drew confesses:

Why do I hate Flarf so much?

She came from the mountains, killing zombies at will. Some people cried “but that was cool!” and I could only whisper “we should NOT be killing zombies!” What have you gotten yourself to do? Did it ever occur to you that you may in fact hate yourself? I know I do . . . I’m not nearly high enough yet—and you’re not helping. My group got invited to join the Flarfist Collective, set up some hibachis and do what we do best, if you know what I mean. I wouldn’t have so much of a problem with this writing if it were a library and I checked out the entire world as if it were a single book. Strike “helpful” off your list. The 4th quarter gets pretty intense and the announcers are usually trying to figure out who is going to become overwhelmed by their own arrogant nightmares. It would upset the stomach of the balance of nature. I always go red over the stupidest things and I have no clue why. Whether it’s speaking in front of the class or someone asking me why I think I have the right to say anything. Why do I need an enemy to feel okay about what I’m doing? Observe yourself as you browse with sophistication through the topic of Authorship &Credibility. Why do I hate the surface of the world so much that I want to poison it? Why do I hate this so much? Well . . . you Hate Your Fucking Dad! Why is the screen so damn small? And why does the car turn so sharply? And why is the only sound I hear the sound of a raft of marmosets? BECAUSE I’m fucking ANXIOUS AS HELL about EVERYTHING. AAAAAAAAARGH. It’s even worse: “I’ll tell you later.” The medium is literally made of thousands of beautiful, living, breathing wolves. Why do I hate the moon so much? Unpublish your ideas in reverse. People hate any new way of writing. My girlfriend really hates it. There is not so much daytime left. Life is like spring snow tossing off mercurial Creeley-like escapes from life-threatening health problems. In summer we love winter in winter we love summer—all poetry is written in social mercurochrome. Since I hate the abridgement of life, a function of needing to please unpleaseable parents is more what this is about. Hate and love—if those are the options I just want to love and hate lobsters. The oddity is not so much that Blake held these eccentric views for most of his life, but that in modern civilization they not only extend the hand, so that it could not complain about complaining about something it hadn’t even bothered to read, and instead formed a halfway decent indie rock band. I’m actually starting to get much more interested in white people than I used to be. Why do I hate Flarf so much? Because it is against everything good this country once espoused. Why do I hate Flarf so much? Because of the awful conflict it places the law-abiding or police-fearing poets under.”

Its getting dangerous, so I get up.
Bigging my friends in the Lower East Side adieu.
Back in Brooklyn, the kids dancing on Bond Street.
Bodies flying.
A mosh pit to trap music in the warehouse.
It takes a long time  to them that warmed up.
But here they are.
Sweaty boys boys boys.
Girls,  girls, girls.
Music, music, music. 

Fun police arrive.
You have to shut it down at 10.
Enough time for one more  song.
A thousand of them,
Two cops.
Why not keep on dancing?
Cops in the head.
No justice, no peace.
Fuck the police. 

Sirens in Saturday night.
The kids walk away, into the Brooklyn night.
Get out of the  streets, scream the police.
They keep on walking,
To their own magic waterfront,
Along the Gowanus.  

meanwhile in brooklyn

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