a day uptown/a night on the bowery

by Walter Bjorkman

a day uptown

carmen singin' the blues at the old met, sande and me makin' out up above

she dies at the end, i think i told teach when quizzed, i took a guess -

or was that the dactyl at the nat? teach was there when both met their fate,

or so she would have us believe. the whitney has a ramp that goes


round      and       round                       up              


and        round        and                                        and



past all the artist's works

or is that the guggy? i forget - teach knows all the spiral's angles, she sez
the plaza is more an almost full-circle, or is that the wollman rink?
the carriages pass by both, horses don't care where they shit.
we stay back without teach, play skee-ball in times square
and say hi to the pros and transvests. melanie rides her roller blades
down columbus as the frozen statues go home to sleep above park,
wearing mad ave stuff we can't afford need or desire, our jealousy spoke


teach says an artist can live anywhere, for there is folly in holy places

and frivolity in serious domains, as well as beauty in squalor

why walk up five flights above the east village or bowery's bowels

to write/paint/sing of despair? above  23rd or so, city's grid takes grip

streets walk east-west north-south in 5th avenue custom suits,

except for the rebel b'way and times square where the cultures meet

downtown the streets run in all directions, canal 'bout the only that obeys

west 4th street crosses west 12th street, no avenues in sight

and the water pressure non-existant, the alleys closing in tight


whatever happened to patronage? t'was a noblesse oblige at one time

now they grunt at the egalitaria of the pest, i was born in the wrong line

section break

a night on the bowery

teacher's down on the corner, marking papers with her cherry lip gloss

i can't get a handle on her, never could, she never did sumthin' for me

keats lives upstairs, too frail to emerge, coughing up sputum

there's barb-wire wrapped around the top of his six by six room

we share the same sink, shower, toilet and towels down the hall

teach warned me, I wouldn't hear it, johnny & i drank from the same bottle

luisa may came by and wanted to share it, she died first of thirst

we put her on a pallet, rush her downstairs, keats died of exhaustion

the morgue bus never came, i stuff them both in a dumpster out back

while richie havens sells his motherless child's freedom on the streets

in her monestary mission, with her rosary and candles, time holds me here

feets got the travelin' blues but my hands tie old women's bones to my hair

we play gutter ball with crumpled village voices, ginz and tuli are the best,

knocking down teach's spindly legs, foaming lips and cast-iron gazes

while ginz mantras me at my worldly nighttime excess

cowboy bob stopped pulling strings years ago, now he sits on the curb

talkin' to ludwig 'bout unfinished biz, “teach me ding dong school” he begs

rodney k opens a hydrant, cools the bloody night streets, bowery flooding

ghandi floats by on a raft of popsicle sticks, waving to the crowd and asks

sister theresa as she hustles tricks, “is it john or paul who is really alive?”

i make my way to bed, but dear lanlord bobby d wants his rent

can't afford the eight-bits a day so i play dead, but he's adamant

get outta here ya one-kneed loser, or i'll see you in chains, you bet”

so i stumble out back to the escape of teach's fiery red 'vette

hop in with her, rev out of town, she dumps me near santa cruz

she got a job teaching frogs how to live without their legs

i tried never looking back, but visit every now and then

the whole cast play out their scenes as if i never existed

sartre asks when he sees me why i return, i nod my head

and say as I jingle my change,

“just keep goin', driver, to the next no exit”