// Startled awake sweating with no light wondering where the hell am I? –Mery Lynn McCorkle
// DIRECTIONS I wake up dead of night, dislocated. A free-fall until I pin down where I am. My compass is gone. He wasn’t that reliable anyway. What are amnesiacs’ bearings at three AM? Or anterograde amnesia: forgetting everything five minutes after it happened. What’s that, a permanent state of beginning? Groundhog Day every five minutes? I locate myself in the dark uncertainly; east lists west, south is up. Everything’s the same but isn’t. I have to find my direction all over again.
// GRAND FERRY PARK, April 19, 2014 The turtle paddles for the boulders of Grand Ferry Park, trying to escape the mucky-murky waters of the East River. But the tide and waves pull her backward and sideways. If the turtle does reach the shore, she will compete for space with wharf rats and Canada geese, stoners and lovers, tourists and Hasidim. All mesmerized by the Manhattan skyline.
// Whenever I feel displaced, which I despise, I go into plan B: I put on extra makeup, I drink too much, I call my secret friends. Things then fall into place, and the world is cognitive again.
// If you don’t know here / You should learn the rules / And when you learn the rules / You should expect them to mean nothing / Blowing in the wind / At whoever is in power’s whim / As the citizens get by at teeth’s skin / Always letting the highest bidder in / As here is the capital of the world / Where you can meet people from everywhere / and here / And none / Will know what’s really going on. –Lynn Gentry
// MORTAL COIL How twisted is this mortal coil, / all covered with sperm and snake oil.
// Great people, and community: The activism I observed inspired me to support it by reporting for the local newspapers Greenline and WG. The People’s Firehouse and NAG helped those in need and cleaned up the neighborhood and it’s waterfront. St. Nick’s Fuel Co-op kept members’ heating-oil prices affordable. A group videotaped an illegal garbage operation and shut it down. Hordes of residents showed up at meetings with city housing officials to insist that an affordable housing requirement be integrated into new residential developments and that inland architecture be kept low-rise. My husband helped a homeless man turn his guns in to the police. –Debora Gilbert
// remain powerful in the midst of disorientation. Confident that I can thrive in an unknown future, I let go of control. I’m in a long-term relationship with the universe, so I know my boo got my back. A big fat black Charger smashes into me, but I don’t fall to pieces, only release my fate to something grander than me, prepared to dust off and reorient when the time comes. –Margarita Korol
// it’s Halloween / all hallows day / kids everywhere /dressed up / in costumes // i walk around / thinking of disorientation / feel slightly dis / oriented / trick / or treat? –Rafiq Ali Shems Baba
// The city constantly escapes me these days. Every street seems to be rushing away. And I never know what neighborhood it is. The other day I checked my watch. It was later than I thought it was. The newspaper from the trash can was from another decade, but the headlines were familiar. The war was just beginning. Everyone around me seemed so happy, looking at themselves in smaller mirrors. And people no longer grew old, they only disappeared. When I got back to my apartment, I heated some soup on the stove. But an unknown tenant claimed I didn’t live there anymore. The building had been sold while I was out. –Carl Watson
// FROM WHERE ONE SPOKE The house was the relic of a former mnemonic, architecture imagined to help one remember—each room and each corner and each cobweb in each corner a word or a passage of some oration or other I couldn’t remember ever knowing. And to clean—it was always dirty—was only to underscore what I didn’t know and felt I should have. If reading a book is to the book what writing on paper is to the paper, so living in the house was to the house what imagining the house was to what the house had been imagined to help one remember. That what one did dirtied it was one way of seeing it, and I don’t remember any other. –Jesse Kohn
// SELL BY DATE it takes five years to learn guitar / another ten you might get pretty far / another 15 and you’re all washed up / & the cycle starts again with another young pup // you learn to play football when you’re 7 or 8 / pop warner gets you hooked on competitive hate / if you’re lucky you can go to a college somewhere / til they’ll spit your ass into a puddle of tears // seems everyone has they’re own sell by date / I guess mine was back by the starting gate / and we all wound up in this fucked up town / had a few good times but now it’s all come down // solo // now you’re all revved up for retirement / burning through money like cheap incense / a few fine years to do it all / if you can muster it up for a port of call // soon enough they’ll drop you in a cemetery plot / new & shiny with a big parking lot / til the city re-zones it for a fancy hotel / & dumps your rotten carcass in a big landfill // guess everything now has a sell by date / even if it’s way back by the starting gate / it’s all been buried in this fucked up town / with a hedge fund manager to tramp it down // guess everything now has a sell by date / even that ole starting gate / it’s all been buried in this fucked up town / with a hedge fund manager to tramp it down –Joe Maynard
// THE MOON HELPS Those old pictures of your life—your family, your apartment, your friends, your neighborhood—you suddenly realize how much has changed, and you thought it wasn’t that long ago… NOW is the real time, but you’re not sure, looking at those images. Oh, remember the old bakery that used to be there on Graham Avenue? The lumberyard on Manhattan Avenue? The way the street looked from your kitchen window before the new building went up? How the sunlight came in? And you think about your parents, and how they always said, “I remember when this whole place was _________ (fill in the blank: farms, woods, old factories, empty lots, little houses).” But it didn’t mean that much to a teenager. NOW it does, in this place you call home. And when you see the moon up there, hanging over it all, you know it’s okay. Because nobody ever says, “I remember when the moon used to be.” –Anya Szykitka