Here from California | Ami Chen Mills-Naim



From the light of California



To your brownstone weight


As if the dead were grounding you

                        In habits of thought

                        In those traditions

Driving our peril, all our ambitions


I feel New York reach for my ankles




Here, with the morning paper, tulips and taxicabs

                        Humming subway


And intellectuals! Celebrities!



Brooklyn, an uncouth relative

                        Whom also you love

                        Who also reminds you

Of the spice and herb that comprise

This hearty stew


Ah, but in California!

It's more like fasting

                        on fruit juices

                        and lemons,

                        on mint and merlot


There, we are reaching

Out beyond the shoreline

                        Toward the sunshine

mentally, I mean, in our minds

Which is why we seem, sometimes

                        so unstable


Yet I feel corruption here,

Drag of gravity in New York

                        In the neighborhoods

Also there is fear



a quiet sadness in Gramercy Park

                        and Washington Square ...


Crumbling cemeteries, full and

spilling over                            

Like this tiny graveyard,

                        of Jew bones on 11th

Bookended by landmarks, salient tomes

leaning in,

                        cloistered in histories

                        harboring their mysteries:

                                                ancient violence,

archaic neurosis


Here, the lighter questions go unasked,

Or are brought to the dark night

                        of the past

To be analyzed and dissected

To be accepted and rejected

(the psychotherapist mourned

at breakfast)


And this charge in the air

                        The possibilities ...

Sublime despair!


And a change in the air

                        Saplings unfurling

With life, windowboxes              


here and there


For, nonetheless


From the Bronx to Brooklyn

                        To Santa Cruz, C A


In the spring

The trees all wake up


                        Knowing deeply


And begin to bloom