Green Hills Literary Lantern

 

 

The New View

 

 

With the old hotel demolished,

cranes and backhoes loaded up

on tractor trailers, the workers

taking down the sidewalk shed,

 

a lone man leans on a balcony

railing of the apartment building

next door and stares out to what

was once a nearby wall of brick

(and will be something similar—

though not the same—soon again)

 

but is for now an open city block;

stares pensively as if to imprint

this particular vista, this moment

of sunlight and clarity right here

in, basically, his own back yard.

 

Then he turns, the balcony door

closing quietly after him, like

the closing of a book.

 

 

the mercy

 

 

newly married/ my wife and i figured we’d try new york city/ a place i might get work in/ jazz musicians not in demand much most anywhere else/ we drove down from upstate on an exploratory visit/ a visit to reconnoiter/ to get a lay of the intimidating land/ chancing past a home care agency/ we dropped in to see if they needed nurses and might consider my recently licensed wife/ i double-parked outside their upper east side office and/ while waiting/ watched a solemn black man in a brimmed cap wash his plush limousine and thought/ what a great city/ even the traditionally disadvantaged can get filthy rich here/ the word chauffer was just that/ a word/ cap or not/ that never occurred to me/ as i marveled at that/ jackie o walked up and strutted past/ all alone/ no doubting it/ it was her/ and since the rich man was busy washing his limo it was just me and her and i thought/ what a city/ celebrities you could just go up to wandering everywhere/ the word secret in secret service hadn’t made/ i guess/ enough impression on me/ moments later my wife reappeared with an amazed grin and a job that started whenever she chose/ we didn’t know then that home care nurses were hard to find/ and also with the address of the personnel director’s apartment building where she knew a cute studio had just come available next door/ thirteenth street in the west village looked good enough to us/ it was cheap/ we took it/ so in that day of mere reconnaissance secured a job/ a lovely apartment and a nearly personal welcome from an inspiring self-made man and the ever-approachable jackie o/ pushing our luck/ i sat-in at a funky jazz club that night/ my playing recklessly stoked by the unlikely triumphs of the day/ the guys said to call them for help and recommendations when i decided to come and stay/ we came right away/ and since then i’ve learned how in that charmed day we exploited the one mercy in notoriously merciless new york/ a day that can’t happen after you’ve lived here as little as a month/ a day spent wielding the genuine/ wonder-working power/ in this lion’s den where cubs/ out of game-pride/ don’t count as kill/ of genuine/ wonder-stunned/ naivete

 

 

 

Mark Belair is a graduate of the New England Conservatory of Music, as well as a New York City based drummer and percussionist who has recorded with jazz greats Bill Evans and Joe Lovano. He has also performed with the New York Philharmonic and the Boston Symphony Orchestra. His show credits include the original Off-Broadway production of Little Shop of Horrors and the Broadway production of Les Miserables. His poems have appeared or are forthcoming in numerous journals, including The Distillery, Harvard Review, Michigan Quarterly Review, Mudfish, Slipstream, The South Carolina Review, and The Sun. His poem, The Word,” has been nominated for a 2008 Pushcart Prize.