Two Poems

Look, it’s dead New York

After Arthur Russell Night at the Paradise Theatre

Look, it’s dead New York
and the deep golden shimmer
of corn on a fast drive
and gold behind the gold
where the sun startles itself

I’m surrounded
by beautiful women
with dimming career prospects:
the beginning of a porno
called “The Revolution”

We’ve all been evicted
we talk about cities
whose identity is a performance
of their identity in the past
a clarity like an aspic salad
that repulses perception

At the beginning of a scene
no one is cool
except the hot people
and at the end
all the hot people
are furious and everyone else
is bringing a lot of new attitude to the situation

Transposed into these decades,
Warhol would never leave Pittsburgh

Insisting—eventually, correctly—
on his destiny, Arthur Russell
coaxes a blender into the choir

Echo and water transform
a little room stacked
with filthy rainbows of tape
into an underground auditorium
arches dripping quartz and mercury

Something that was always here
but always arriving from the future
like a train moving backwards

Another heavenly drone
for Arthur who knew that objects
and bodies would keep humming even
in a world of crystal longing
and immaculate vision

The great thingness of a day
in the city, I’ll never go back
to the prairies
, and then Arthur
stands in the prairies petting
the haunches of new tractors

No one can afford to stay here
but no one can stop me
from hanging the beams of my mind
with silver balloons and dancing
in front of a mirror
that reflects my friends,
the jewels of their voices,
tall silks rustling the indoor sky,
the glittering tide of people
moving at night

Stop Making Sense

A filmed gesture is a flower
that never dies. Unnatural,

its stiffened petals
shifting the archival air

the way memory deforms
tissue by copying the watery

reflection of the garden; the way
an event ruins prehistory.

At least be deliberate
once your shadow falls

across the stage. For years,
you walk into rooms knowing

some things will only happen
when some people are together.

If it looks like you’re waiting,
those things will not start

with you inside them. You have
this fantasy: to pull the string

of a private vision and release
a public joy, the miracle anodized,

the contraption completely
visible. Close-up magic

that inflates to fill a theatre.
Of course, your white hand

on the string. So how to pay
attention to the whole,

bone-in night?
Be humiliated

until you are immune.
If your prickling threshold is

not being loved, you will
stay busy for a long time.

Look at all the people
dancing, about to lose

their regional accents.
You can’t remove age

from the image because
the eye is always there,

degrading. Peering into
the canyon between decades,

I dropped my life, and the canyon
winked. Same as it ever was.

About the author

Meghan Harrison is a writer and editor based in Toronto.