Two New Poems by John Freeman
From the Collection Maps
You Are Here
When I arrive subway tokens coin
a pocket like teeth, XXX parlors
gum 6th Avenue south of 34th.
We park at Astor on Wednesdays,
wait for the Voice, quarter roll and tennis
shoes, ready to out-sprint all comers to pay
phones, on to mythical three-bedroom apartments
under two thousand dollars.
Everybody takes the subway, the 6, the J,
the N, hips glued to one another.
The F train stop at 2nd Avenue hot as a
smokehouse, we stand over grates
for a whisper of air, land at
Allen Street, three rooms rump-side
of a tenement that rattles when semis
run the Houston light after dark. One day
there’ll be a train carving south straight
through those greasy foundations.
Be patient, they’ve been planning it
since 1929. The city grinds
its molars at night, carefully mined
explosions boring cavities beneath
Manhattan, while other lines
ride all hours in yellow light, gliding
to stops at the zebra-painted beam
halfway down each platform,
conductor always pointing up, as if
to say, yes, you are here.
of men in red
women with dogs.
I follow you
through their maze.
It was cool for July,
slap of the streets,
Then there was
ancient, night with the dignity of an un-
One limestone pebble
at a time given and
the river knows everything
is taken in the end.
I lost you at the bridge,
behind Pont Marie,
twilight’s night trick,
that moment a
river is a road, a path,
From Maps, by John Freeman. Courtesy Copper Canyon Press, copyright 2017, John Freeman. Freeman will be reading from Maps on Tuesday, September 26th, at McNally-Jackson, with Lawrence Joseph.