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In the Mean/Time

MANAHATTA – THEN AND NOW
Past, present, future merge
where aboriginal beavers grazed,
damming happy brooks glistening
with glacial schist squeezed from
tectonic plates to make boulders
bigger than Hendryk’s Half Moon.
A metamorphic collision
heaved Manahatta elegantly
into place without thought,
a composing force
arranging Earth’s ballast
into a sheltered harbor:
New York, New York,
steel and glass and
concrete towers
anchored in glitter
450 million years old.

Here’s a marketplace
throbbing twixt
two rivers pulsing,
America’s index
finger, alive and beckoning,
twitching idly on destiny’s trigger,
America’s principle orifice,
the golden door
open to all who pass
liberty’s glowing torch.

Manhattan’s the open portal,
through which all comers
come and come again
in endless rounds
of commercial intercourse.
The world’s nerve ends
terminate here
in a carnival
of coitus:
the city rises in
tense ejaculation –
EXCELSIOR! –
onward, upward.

Manhattan is America’s
soul, Yo! Dig its
cast iron arteries, its
copper coils feeding
a wire-laced terminus where money
talks between bytes, a nervy feast
of plenty with multi-lingual servers
barking orders that reverberate
within the same walled street
Dutch burghers built
to keep outsiders out
and insiders safe.
The Dutch laughed when Erasmus
wrote “The Praise of Human Folly.”

Here on the East River’s banks,
envoys still barter, trade
and offset gains and losses
against an unknown future,
all and sundry sold short,
or played long in swift confusion.
O say can you see?
The law trumpets liberty
as a commodity to be traded.

Manhattan hosts a world forum atop Turtle Bay,
a place where the city’s fathers built their slaughter houses;
butchered flesh and hard-shelled ambition
still rendered into common ground:
the forum’s built on guilty conscience,
hope and philanthropic zeal.
There’s no Uniting Nations
mired in myth and memories
of causes scarred
into states of corruption.

Swords were to be beaten
into plowshares here, human rights
exalted, ‘til false currencies
mocked conscience
and common sense.
Hope now drains into torrents
of unenforceable resolutions,
babble fills the bay, ships of state
founder on uncharted shoals,

Downstream we render the wealth of nations,
skim the fat and sell schmaltz
amidst tides of optimism
dammed in ignorance,
reason stranded
in the ooze
of history’s
rancid ballast.

Here the market rules
and the melting pot boils
with immigrants’ dreams,
envy and get-rich schemes:
E Pluribus Unum means
from the many, one.
Is one a percentile?

Poetry

THINK OR SWIM


Down down
don’t drown
in the caterwauling
noxious nervous laughter
of a poxed epoch
life streaming through
a tangled net
a rush of claims
and entreaties
high def murk
much too much
to think about :

currents
undertow
the pull
of
an
advertisement.

RICHARD NUSSER







She’s One

She’s one of those
people on whom
you can rely,
when the world’s
toocloseforcomfort,
when thoughts run
deeper than the rut
we’re in. She’s
the kind you want
to be around
when you’re
naked and no one
else will do.


Signaling Through the Flames,
or How the News Makes Me Dizzy

My dizziness swirls insidiously
as I attempt to digest
the news I see and hear daily
in every medium
that tries to explain
what’s going on
in the world I inhabit;
and I wonder whether
it’s just me who senses the truth
that percolates like bile
between the lines
as if hidden
with malice to corrode
with biological intent.
Or does it hide
ashamed of disturbing the false calm
manipulated into mediation
for reasons that are dizzying
in their complexity.
It’s a question without
a question mark.

Is there something
I can do about this?
Perhaps a pill
or some medication or placebo
will alleviate the symptoms
of chronic doubt and searing disbelief
in what’s being absorbed...
like it or not.

My dizziness results
in anxiety I cannot tolerate,
knowing how each reporter believes
he is trying to tell the truth
without knowing how deeply
the truth is obscured
with so-called facts that mean so little
unless weighed and measured
against the history of events portrayed,
weighed and measured
against the character and motives
of individuals
who can only tell their side
of a story;
which isn’t the story
that needs to be told
because without knowing
the motives and character
of each participant comprising
the history of the story
you won’t find a grain of truth
within the story
that is not
obscured or diffused
into a dizzying mélange
of lies, distortion and half-truths at best
that one
cannot feed upon
for understanding
and reasoned thought.

Shall I try to forego
trying to digest the daily news
and hope the silence of ignorance
quells my dizzying need to know
and understand
the reasons why the world
I inhabit is being spun
out of everyone’s control,
unthinkingly,
without passion or alarm
or the rise of the belief
that someone can and must
be held responsible
for telling unvarnished truths.

It’s another question without
a question mark
which seems to preclude
finding someone bold enough to dig deeper
into the history of our times
in the hope of fashioning
rational, comprehensive,
conclusive answers from
a dizzying array of information
that obscures our understanding
of the world we live in
and the people who have assumed
responsibility for the direction
in which is spinning out of control.

Or perhaps, as Antonin Artaud put it:
“It is our artistic dallying with forms,
instead of being like victims
burnt at the stake,
signaling through the flames.”

###

a poem by Richard Nusser
NYC Dec. 6, 2011

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Think or Swim Signaling Through the Flames; Gibbous Moon; She's One; Manhattan Then & Now;
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