So Going Around Cities

By Ted Berrigan 1934–1983 Ted Berrigan

to Doug & Jan Oliver

“I order you to operate, I was not made to suffer.”
Probing for old wills, and friendships, for to free
to New York City, to be in History, New York City being
History at that time.” “And I traded my nights
for Intensity; & I barter my right to Gold; & I’d traded
my eyes much earlier, when I was circa say seven years old
for ears to hear Who was speaking, & just exactly who
was being told….” & I’m glad
                  I hear your words so clearly
                  & I would not have done it
                                differently
                  & I’m amused at such simplicity, even so,
inside each & every door. And now I’m with you, instantly,
& I’ll see you tomorrow night, and I see you constantly, hopefully
though one or the other of us is often, to the body-mind’s own self
more or less out of sight! Taking walks down any streets, High
Street, Main Street, walk past my doors! Newtown; Nymph Rd
            (on the Mesa); Waveland
Meeting House Lane, in old Southampton; or BelleVue Road
            in England, etcetera
Other roads; Manhattan; see them there where open or shut up behind
            “I’ve traded sweet lines for answers …”
They don’t serve me anymore.” They still serve me on the floor.
            Or,
as now, as floor. Now we look out the windows, go in &
            out the doors. The Door.
(That front door which was but & then at that time My door).
            I closed it
On the wooing of Helen. “And so we left schools for her.” For
She is not one bit fiction; & she is easy to see;
            & she leaves me small room
For contradiction. And she is not alone; & she is not one bit
            lonely in the large high room, &
invention is just vanity, which is plain. She
is the heart’s own body, the body’s own mind in itself
            self-contained.
& she talks like you; & she has created truly not single-handedly
Our tragic thing, America. And though I would be I am not afraid
            of her, & you also not. You, yourself, I,
Me, myself, me. And no, we certainly have not pulled down
            our vanity: but
We wear it lightly here,
                                       here where I traded evenly,
                                                                                    & even gladly
health, for sanity; here
                                    where we live day-by-day
                                                                             on the same spot.
My English friends, whom I love & miss, we talk to ourselves here,
            & we two
rarely fail to remember, although we write seldom, & so must seem
            gone forever.
In the stained sky over this morning the clouds seem about to burst
            What is being remembering
Is how we are, together. Like you we are always bothered, except
            by the worst; & we are living
            as with you we also were
fired, only, mostly, by changes in the weather. For Oh dear hearts,
When precious baby blows her fuse / it’s just our way
            of keeping amused.
That we offer of & as excuse. Here’s to you. All the very best.
            What’s your pleasure? Cheers.

Ted Berrigan, "So Going Around Cities" from The Collected Poems of Ted Berrigan. Copyright © 2007 by Ted Berrigan.  Reprinted by permission of University of California Press.

Source: Selected Poems (Penguin Books, 1994)

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Poet Ted Berrigan 1934–1983

SCHOOL / PERIOD New York School (2nd Generation)

Subjects Living, The Mind, Time & Brevity, Activities, Travels & Journeys, Relationships, Friends & Enemies, Social Commentaries, Cities & Urban Life

Poetic Terms Allusion

Biography

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 Living, The Mind, Time & Brevity, Activities, Travels & Journeys, Relationships, Friends & Enemies, Social Commentaries, Cities & Urban Life

SCHOOL / PERIOD New York School (2nd Generation)

Poetic Terms Allusion

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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