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Nat Lipstadt Mar 5
letter to elana

for the poet elana bell

~

in a different cafe,
on a Manhattan streetscape where once, years earlier,
violence was the purview of West Side Story gangs,
ruling their internecine non-intersectionality territorial blood lines supremely

nowadays, violence replaced by the frenetic
noises of Lincoln Center theater goers,
student dancers, actors, musicians and poets joining the throng
of those who sup and run,
all hearing their own frantic
curtain calling, saying, announcing,
music dance voices words require your obeisance,
needy for a mutual worshipping reassurance fiat that:

life can be made transcendent
if even for just 90 minutes or 120 pages,
or a 3 minute poem reading


this city of millions requires billions of poems that spoon stirred  
and yet, almost always fail, to squeeze, all of the human essence that is in its ultimate source, clarifying nyc tap water,
containing the storied remnants of a hackable continuous,
single human stanza cell osmosis - a blockchain like no other

two poets sit side by side each in their own lapsed dreams,
she, a published poet of prize and rank, ^
he, a rank amateur whose only prize is his unpublished anonymity,
poetry, is his just a nightly soul cleansing,
an imported remnant of his Marrano piyyutim ancestry

one turns to the other,
in the inexplicable daily crazy miracle
of city fashionistas

in a city where stealing a parking spot, or the
forced squeezing creation of a subway seat space
where physics proves none exists,
are oft the roots of slashing and stabbings faithfully reported
on the 11 o’clock news,  
and trust and/or other encouraging words
are seldom heard and even less demonstrated,
the make-no-eye-contact of Camus’s L’Etranger anomie is the
normative, paranormal, paralysis cloak of we city separatists

“Can you watch over my electronics and stuff?”

Sure says the grayed and grizzled,
an all life long veteran of nyc,
judged to be trustworthy
based on a few seconds of being upsized and downsized,
a car wash (exterior only) perusal
despite a
“no direction home, like a compete unknown, a rolling stone,”  
this signage, yellow star permanently chest-affixed,
conveniently ignored, as it seems impossible
thieves don’t look like me,
don’t likely in their possess,
a distinguished head of gray hair (yeah, sure)

a thank you reward of (or did I imagine it) a lean-in,
a momentary head on a shoulder,
the chit chat now grows earned and earnest,
she confesses her cardinal poetry profession,
eliciting an ‘Oh Boy’ utterance from the poet
of a thousand names
and a thousand textual emendations

a fastidious nyc boundary is brief crossed for one short meal,
till the end when time sensitized IMRL intrudes and
the showtime calls out,
if not now, when? if not me, then who?

I read her poetry later in the praying supine first position of
three AM, and laugh with delight, at the contrast and no compare,
the styles clash and tho the stories told
are both writ in the aleph bet script,
there ends the Ven diagram overlap and
into the night’s coming of a Elvisian blue suede coverlet,
we both disappear, and if not for this recording,
history says, you old man confused, never happened,
just an imaginary poetry ink blot dream breaching...

~

postface:
another poetry book is no longer homeless,
comes to shelter upon my shelf, close to Angelou, far from Whitman,
now all the book’s nooks eyes collectively
reassessing the new old-owner, parsing his syntax,
undecided if his readership is worthy of them,
concluding that all these books are the
man’s owned roughened stones,
to be placed by human hands on the
serpentine curvature of his literary tombstone,
and until all stones fully read,
they all agree,
will they and he
be fully freed,
smoothing his legacy’s edges
Feb. 21 -March 5, 2019
NYC
another true story

^ https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Elana_Bell

— The End —