Alexander Hamilton of New York

I.

I am out here early
I'm surprised by the light

I walk this city
I polish its stones
I laugh at the grass
I will take this path down to the slip
I am off to cross the Hudson
I have a pistol and an old brass button
I intend to kill a man

I was not born here
I was an orphan
I came ashore as a child
I was schooled in this country
I was taught to speak plain
I learned to take care of myself

I stole a piece of bread from a yardman
I took a spoon
I saw myself in the spoon
I was half-happy
I looked with two eyes
I measured my way
I was free

I dreamt of well-lit cities
I walked in hallows of commerce
I say look at that
I will show you the passageways
I'll take you down the alleyways
I ask you to look with me
I have a handful of brown dirt
I feel the roots of the world

I see the boat waiting
I see its rope dangling
I feel the wind penetrating my black wool coat
I take every footstep with care and culpability

II.

Vietnam came to Queens in a pharaoh's plague of cardboard window signs
       [We’ll miss you Joey]
In the stolen homes of neighbors who’d never be the same
       [In Memory of our Beloved Son John Miller]
So when Tommy Colin told me he got his papers
       [America will never forget you Sgt. Taylor]
His mouth twitched the unwanted smile of the knowing dead
       [Paddy you WALK with the LORD]
I wanted to punch that grin right off his face
       [Jack O’Connor 1945-1968 ]
We’d never drink beers together at the White Horse Tavern
       [Kevin - our hearts are with you!]
We’d never shoot hoops in the night parks of Forest Hills
       [You are with God now Roger]
And he’d never see the Mets win the series at Shea
       [God BLESS our SON]
But when he woke up in Canada -- he was alive.

III.

I am always surprised by daylight
I remember that bitter winter
I was aide-de-camp to a future president
I picked up a branch and shook it at the cold sun
I tried to scrape it off the sky
I watched it fall on its own accord
I was never more hungry

I feel the pitch of this boat
I roll with the water turning
I know this river
I will stand firm
I made a promise to myself
I will come back to that city
I will see everything that comes
I will note everything that goes
I will give up these oars
I will attend this contest
I am coming ashore

No comments:

Post a Comment