Brooklyn Narcissus

By Paul Blackburn 1926–1971 Paul Blackburn

                       Straight rye whiskey, 100 proof
                       you need a better friend?
                       Yes.        Myself.
 
The lights
the lights
the lonely        lovely      fucking       lights
and the bridge on a rainy Tuesday night
Blue/green double-stars      the line
that is the drive and on the dark alive
gleaming river
Xmas trees of tugs scream and struggle
 
                                   Midnite
 
Drops on the train window wobble  .  stream
                                         My trouble
                                                              is
it is her fate to never learn to make
                                             anything grow
                                   be born or stay
Harbor beginnings and that other gleam  .  The train
is full of long/way/home and holding lovers whose
          flesh I would exchange for mine
          The rain, R.F.,
 
 
          sweeps the river as the bridges sweep
          Nemesis is thumping down the line
          But I have premises to keep
          & local stops before I sleep
          & local stops before I sleep
 
                                                          The cree-
                                                          ping train
                                                          joggles
                                                          rocks across
                                                          I hear
the waves below lap against the piles, a pier
                                               from which ships go
                                                          to Mexico
 
a sign which reads
 
PACE O MIO DIO
 
          oil
                                              “The flowers died when you went away”
 
Manhattan Bridge
a bridge between
we state, one life and the next, we state
is better so
is no
           backwater, flows
                                         between us is
our span our bridge our
naked eyes
open her
see
bridging whatever impossibility. . . PACE!
 
PACE O MIO DIO
 
           oil
 
                                                          “The flowers died. . .”
                                                          Of course the did
 
Not that I was a green thing in the house
 
                                I was once.
                                No matter.
 
 
The clatter of cars over the span, the track
                                  the spur
the rusty dead/pan ends of space
            of grease
 
 
We enter the tunnel.
 
The dirty window gives me back my face

Paul Blackburn, “Brooklyn Narcissus” from The Selected Poems of Paul Blackburn. Copyright © 1989 by Paul Blackburn. Reprinted by permission of Joan Blackburn.

Source: The Selected Poems of Paul Blackburn (Persea Books, 1989)

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Poet Paul Blackburn 1926–1971

POET’S REGION U.S., Mid-Atlantic

SCHOOL / PERIOD Black Mountain

Subjects Living, The Mind, Activities, Travels & Journeys, Social Commentaries, Cities & Urban Life

Poetic Terms Free Verse

Biography

Paul Blackburn is best known as a Black Mountain Poet because of his role as contributing editor and distributor of the Black Mountain Review: and his subsequent inclusion with the group in Donald Allen’s influential New American Poetry anthology (1960). Although many of Blackburn’s concerns with formal innovation were shared by such faculty members of the experimental Black Mountain College as Robert Creeley and Charles Olson, . . .

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Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Living, The Mind, Activities, Travels & Journeys, Social Commentaries, Cities & Urban Life

POET’S REGION U.S., Mid-Atlantic

SCHOOL / PERIOD Black Mountain

Poetic Terms Free Verse

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