Friday, April 13, 2012

ON THE SIDEWALK with a necessary postscript

Forty years ago W.H. Auden left his apartment on St. Mark’s Place in New York City to go back to Europe.  One of the reasons was the sight of bodies being taken out of apartments in corpse sacks and loaded into ambulances.  Unlike the suburbs much is played out on the actual streets and sidewalks of New York, Manhattan in particular.
I was thinking about this because as I was walking back from the Strand Bookstore this morning I found a box of books on Sixth Street near Second Avenue… boxes of books, piles of photographs, mattresses heaped on sidewalks always… always take me to: who died and while I know this is not always the case…people move, people pee in beds, clutter becomes too much, who wants to look at or be reminded of him or her?...
But books this time just around the corner from BLOCK drugs---  if you watch films from the 40s 50s you can see their distinctive sign--- if the characters venture downtown.
I would have brought home the whole box because after being sure no dog or human had visited the box in that way  I looked through the books… many unread copies of the Paris Review, the collected stories of Paul Bowles from Black Sparrow… and NEW DIRECTIONS IN PROSE AND POETRY  11.. from 1949 Signed inside by Shirley Stein using the Palmer method it looks like.. this book looks like it was read…  poems by Lorine Niedecker…fragments from Jean Genet’s Our Lady of the Flowers… two stories by Robert Lowry… a story by Lloyd Alexander…  I won’t continue as there are many famous writers… who survived their deaths… and there is an unread  THE SONG OF THE WORLD by Jean Giono in the paperback from North Point… 1981… I got a copy of that when it came out as I was a messenger for Maple Vail and they had been the printers--- being a messenger, before I descended to being or ascended to being an adjunct professor---  and a series of copies of a little magazine LONG SHOT, from New Jersey, which I took along as they had poems by Sean Penn, Marianne Faithful and Amiri Baraka and Charles Bukowski… these too  have not been read … and book of poetry by the very quiet and strange Philip Lamantia  MEADOWLARK WEST:  a certain attention to detail/ sight of forgotten life on the wheel (from Fading Letters)
in the newspapers  it seems Eileen Myles has received a Guggenheim fellowship.. everyone I am sure remembers two things:  in the movie The Swimming Pool::: an editor says literary prizes are like hemorrhoids, eventually every asshole gets one...  and the little Jack Kerouac poem: fame is a newspaper blowing down Bleecker Street