New York Poem by Terrance Hayes. New Yorker, 2010

In New York from a rooftop in Chinatown

one can see the sci-fi bridges and aisles

of buildings where there are more miles

of shortcuts and alternative takes than

there are Miles Davis alternative takes.

There is a white girl who looks hi-

jacked with feeling in her glittering jacket

and her boots that look made of dinosaur

skin and R is saying to her I love you

again and again. On a Chinatown rooftop

in New York anything can happen.

Someone says “abattoir” is such a pretty word

for “slaughterhouse.” Someone says

mermaids are just fish ladies. I am so

fucking vain I cannot believe anyone

is threatened by me. In New York

not everyone is forgiven. Dear New York,

dear girl with a bar code tattooed

on the side of your face, and everyone

writing poems about and inside and outside

the subways, dear people underground

in New York, on the sci-fi bridges and aisles

of New York, on the rooftops of Chinatown

where Miles Davis is pumping in,

and someone is telling me about contranyms,

how “cleave” and “cleave” are the same word

looking in opposite directions. I now know

“bolt” is to lock and “bolt” is to run away.

That’s how I think of New York. Someone

jonesing for Grace Jones at the party,

and someone jonesing for grace.

 

(Terrance Hayes. New Yorker, 2010)

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