Night Fall

10 floors down
A girl crossing the square
Calls out a cheerful tipsy
“G’night !!!”

In the dry fountain
A bronze water nymph
Bares a single small breast
through her careless gown

Insulated in shadow
A homeless man has encamped around a park bench
His chest, a metronome of coughing
As though his spark is missing on one cylinder

From black trees and lampposts
Holiday lights hang
Celebrating to no one

10 floors up
In a gracious pre-war
A pensioner stands looking down

The paned window yawns wide
Exhaling heat into cold

The air settles heavy
On New Year’s night

Distant sirens chirp and howl
without harmony

An ersatz constellation of scattered city lights
Reflects deep in the black glass of an office tower
Giving the illusion of depth

10 stories down

To the pavement

Gutters drink
Open throated
The dirty water of
A dirty quarter

Brick pipe storm drains connect the streets to the river
Water joins water
Sliding under derelict barges, tethered to buoys,
Turning clockwise on the heaving pulse of ebb and flood

A bus approaches slow
Empty but for the driver
Pushing hollow air before it
Splashes erupting through the rippling mirror light of puddles

Puddles filling potholes
Potholes like lunar craters
The moon so bright and sterile
A crummy satellite covered in potholes
Stealing light

The bus makes its turn and recedes
The soft sound of its gas motor joins with the sound of accelerating rain

Back in the park
Squirrels sleep
While rats forage for missed peanuts
Left out by tourists and children

The last of the taxicabs idles
in front of the old Paradigm Hotel
Waiting out the quiet

A New Year’s rain
Washes away nothing

The Angler or How to Tempt Fate Without Really Trying

I went fishing

I don’t know why
I had no talent for it
The wrong mindset
The wrong temperament

I was drawn to the water
Like any common rover

I cast about
Having seen others do the same
But I, without skill or touch
Artlessly toying with the wrong bait
Relied on that least attractive of offerings

My pole lowered
Pointing at the water
I awaited a sign s

All senses bent Toward some slight change of gravity Some magnetic tremor Or electric spark



And then …..

A spastic shock
As my pole snapped upright
To set the hook

There was life
At a distance
Beyond sight but not beyond perception

She must be the big one I stupidly thought
My hands fumbled
I made haste in my panic

The line cut the water without parting it

Still, I managed the thing
Despite my inexperience

Perhaps the fish was inexperienced as well

I caught, I thought
I knew not what

Recovering a measure of calm
I tried to understand the Morse code of its struggle

It seemed
After all consideration
That it must be something small, even delicate

Reeling ‘er in
We closed on one another
She must have sensed the nearness of the surface and her ultimate exposure
For the fight in her increased

So much was communicated down and back the filament
Of our attachment

In a way, I feared that water

In a similar way, she must have feared this air

The two of us grappling
From our opposing oceans
Aroused by the unknown

I was excited
As I have said

I pulled too hard

Of course she got away
The thread was intact
But the hook had never properly set

I looked at the water
For that was all there was to look at

Neither of us had anything of substance to show to our kin
But in my egotism I like to think
We each took a souvenir
However intangible
To remember the other by

It is clearer to me now
That in her passionate flight
She was not indifferent
But it was I
I was the one that was hooked