Things to Do in New York (City)

By Ted Berrigan 1934–1983 Ted Berrigan

                                                    for Peter Schjeldahl

                      Wake up high up
                              frame bent & turned on
                      Moving slowly
                              & by the numbers
                      light cigarette
                      Dress in basic black
                              & reading a lovely old man’s book:
                         BY THE WATERS OF MANHATTAN
                play cribbage on the Williamsburg Bridge
                watching the boats sail by
                the sun, like a monument,
                move slowly up the sky
                above the bloody rush:
break yr legs & break yr heart
kiss the girls & make them cry
loving the gods & seeing them die
                                         celebrate your own
                                    & everyone else’s birth:
                                    Make friends forever
                                    & go away

Ted Berrigan, “Things to Do in New York (City)” from The Collected Poems of Ted Berrigan. Copyright © 2005 by University of California Press. Reprinted by permission of University of California Press.

Source: The Collected Poems of Ted Berrigan (University of California Press, 2005)

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Poet Ted Berrigan 1934–1983

SCHOOL / PERIOD New York School (2nd Generation)

Subjects Social Commentaries, Cities & Urban Life

Poetic Terms Free Verse


Ted Berrigan—Edmund Joseph Michael Berrigan Jr.—was born in Providence, Rhode Island, the oldest of three children of Margaret Dugan and Edmund Berrigan, the chief engineer at Ward’s Baking Company. On both sides the family was Irish Catholic. Berrigan attended local schools and entered Providence College, a local Catholic school, but left after a year and enlisted in the army.

Berrigan was sent to Korea in 1954 but never saw . . .

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Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Social Commentaries, Cities & Urban Life

SCHOOL / PERIOD New York School (2nd Generation)

Poetic Terms Free Verse

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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