Wide Awake (after Maxine Greene)

While the world sleeps
you will not even sense a shadow
or a shape taking form
on the brick outside your window.

You will not sense the sharp angles
of  letters that spell names
too colorful to be silenced
in a city with this much voice.

You will not name the hand of the
Creator, will not
recognize familiar signatures
in the right hand corner of each piece
because this language –
too stylish
too urban
too hip hop.

When you wake
you will not know why
the side of this building,
this train,
this museum of holy relics
has been covered in graffiti.

You will not read the A train
as a text
as a scripture
as an ethnography
that rumbles and screams
through silent tunnels
like a gust of metal poetry.

You will not dwell inside the name
painted on retractable doors,
will not ride to work on 53rd St.
without moving outside the columns
of your New York Times,
will not look through anyone else’s eyes
because

Your bed is too high above the street
to hear the spray-cans
decorate the night with affirmation.
The artwork of your dreams
too glass case,
too clean,
too passcode protected,
too afraid of photographs
and the steady decay of touch.

While the world sleeps
you will not speak
the language used
to rename a city block
a city park
a city bench
moved by the Cross Bronx Expressway,
will not recognize
the dialect of fire,
the discourse of embers.

You will not name your dreams
because you have never been unsure
of your existence,
never written the words “I am”
on the backs of your eyelids
so you will not forget who you are
during slumber,
never felt the heavy sag of sirens
and sunlight
and East River,
never moved inside an early morning song
like the birds,
never stolen ten cans of paint
that your life depended on.

But you will know
that while you slept –
we were wide awake
and writing.
We were here.

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One comment

  1. Beautiful. I could hear, see and feel New York.

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