WORD/ FOR WORD: Volume One

Tom Hibbard



Assent 19

limited clutter
 subway 4 a.m., Jimmy Days, Delancey
  Greenwich Village
   population eight million
   South Street
    Verrazano Bridge
    large ships, piers
   $125 per month fourth-floor walk-up apartment
    young idealistic landlords
     Lower East Side
   painted by Edward Hopper from Williamsburg Bridge
    Twin Towers flooded in sunlight
     Orchard Street
    Union Square
     Grammercy Park
   mounds of salt-water fish
    Fulton Fish market, Chinatown

unprescedented building codes
  attract thorough yarn to leaks
fire escapes require decoration
  eighteen feet high
 basic living conditions
date back to the nineteenth century
 let no one know about the observation deck's
  looping way of doing things

nothing is wrong
 everything is right
each movement of each person
 in a crowd of people
  is the same average size as
 one movement of one person
divine cause and effect
 what arrangements would you make
  floating in the smog of sympathy
   every day
 irresolute in the riches of the struggle
  I have had to go over completely

what am I doing
 I've got to do something
  about postcards from fellow students
 piled in front of the calendar someone gave me
it is impossible to tell you
 that it's wrong to injure the sea
it's been said many times
 you can hear its roar inside a shell
  tick-tock double lock

I don't want what belongs to someone else
 I don't want what someone else
  has worked for and thought about
I don't want to be indifferent
  punished for using things
   that might go off
I want something that I have done myself
 a sacred place of my own
 as good as the old
  that no one can see
that I treasure ceaselessly more than anything

you tried to cut off the doctrine
 so you could say you did that
to keep up with the prototype
  it was John-the-Lampost
talks to inter-racial marks what is yours
 whole nationalistic communities
  apparently getting away alone
to thank you for showing the way out
 from being caught in your own trap

tangibility deals unfairly in everything
 taking one thing will take anything
  pick it up and carry it
   to Robert Oppenheimer
you wouldn't know
 this tenement is where they started
you wouldn't know
 the Puerto Rican five-and-dime
  Central Park diamonds
sensing meritime winds
  the receptive laws of
so many didn't have names at all
 Pan Am building
  island lights on East River
 and Empire tower
typewritten on the sides of durable fabric
 garbage strikes
  in the automobile sparkle

Bhuddist Monks so confined in coming back
 to What's-Its-Name Stadium
  at the ineffable moment
   falseness poured out of
the gold-plated temples' early edition fonts
 that brought up the invited
  handcuffed by backstage props
 to ask the Red Cross
  for a roll of duct tape

what was it like to ride streetcars
 through the afternoon slush
confirming symbol of bundled up conditioning
  not a terminal for air travel
 willing reparations to fashion
  Dart Bar, Saint Mark's Place
 the unproductive half-life
  of space and chance
 tells us what to do
  perhaps we only agree

[contributors' notes]
[back to Volume 1]