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Dreaming New York - John Horváth

It's where we all go, where the dough uprises, becomes bread.

Thirty-and-nine. Scratching my balls at a Ballenchine ballet.

The uncomfortable seats of the old Met; Karinska's costumes

erotic in the dull lighting of the old Met.

Outside, the quick black faces of the street

as if leaves pass along the guttered way.

The siren song, "this is not a test,"

wails in the high notes of a passing soprano.

A child wars against its mother's wrong--

she drags him to shop for a suit at Sak's.

It will be ugly as first suits must be.

It will be coal dark for mother mourning

the last chance to give milk.

It will be tight in the armpits, wide at the waist,

short in the inseam so mother can lift him

up to her kiss, reach into his pants,

see that he's truly her little man.

Have pity on the children bow-tied

white-shirted in winter for church.

"Wha' I cn do fa youse, Johnny,

for penny or nickel or dime

aint it a crime, Johnny, come

along, Johnny, gimme a kiss"

At parkside, the drunk hack beats a gray mare;

a gathering crowd hussahs its reared-up run

into evening headlight and blabbering horn.

All of new York was once full of horseshit.

Now it's just a horse or two, a dime bag of it.

I have become all the dreams I have ever had:

New York at Christmas, anonymity in crowds,

the patron saint of the self, the closet grief

that stares from shuttered eyes. Vacant at muggings.

It is only my accent gives me away.

The tourist who gawks at skyspires

is a phallus lover, a voyeur

of iceskates cutting through ice,

a vagrant among the avant-garde.

But I am repulsive having not made my choice

but arrogant dying among them as one of them

Goddamned horsey!

The cabbie's turn of phrase swerves

away from the oblivion of all of us,

attacks display windows, shatters

them with a scream. I am so richer

for it. I want Coney Island; I want

the resurrection of the dead, cream

color mornings of long-ago harvest.

I feel my flesh rising, leg torn from torso

and an arm waving to no one, a cab?

Among the eyewitnesses immediate

flashbulbs of ready journalists, horse guts.

Tombstone photo of first paragraph hero

seen here wading through the tangle

appears on the paperless news five

minutes after and is soon forgotten

amid the sitcom of Holiday shoppers.

Like the after-opera strollers

I want to wake at the appointed time,

and in the place where I fell into sleep;

I want to go home; I want five minutes

more between dry, warm-cuddly sheets.

I want to be alone. Here in the city.

Who have I spoken to? Why do you listen?

The blood of the cabby dries on my hand;

accidents of waking have driven men mad.


Mississippian John Horváth publishes poetry internationally since the 1960s (Streetlight, recently in Burningword Literary Journal (Best of 2018), Adelaide Literary Magazine, Brave Voices (Zimbabwe), London Reader, Subterranean Blue). After Vanderbilt and Florida State universities, Following a bad parachute drop in Iraq leaving him 100% disabled, "Doc" Horváth taught at historically Black colleges. To promote contemporary international poetry, Horváth edited the magazine at from 1997 to 2017.



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