Wednesday, June 19, 2024

The Bowery at Dawn

Whitman and Thoreau are usually out the door by six,
the first to leave their off-track cubbyholes—
leaves of grass piled to the ceiling’s naked light—

to observe seagulls spindrifting on high Manhattan air,
to watch the Brooklyn ferry lumber through decades
coiled like movie reels in their transcendental eyes.

Emerson, stumbling through the lobby, claims the East River
is full of transmigrations, currents of the Oversoul’s rise.
Kerouac awakens late, dons a wife beater,

is on the road less traveled half past the hand-rolled joint.
Hamlet is the only holdout, sitting in his nutshell
and calling himself a king of melancholy space.

Let us not be too harsh to judge the rags and weeds
shuffling down the pavement, harvesting dandelions
to accent their six-by-ten palaces of crack and speed.

We all live in the rundown El Centro Hotel, condemned,
a dust mote spindrifting through the solar system.
We are hungry hobos stirring in the Bowery dawn,

hoping to catch a wave of luminescent biocentric soul,
a ribbon of stars to carry us past the nine-to-five syringe
and find our home, wherever that may be.

~William Hammett

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Wednesday, June 5, 2024

Poaching Secrets from the Alchemist

Standing behind a cape of invisibility
woven from the orb weaver’s dew,
I study the wise and aging wizard,
his beard a cascade of white years,
unwinding gold from the lead on his bench.

His world is upside down or right-side up,
spinning like a drunken gyroscope
or a falcon creating wanton wind
with the purpose of fire and gyre.
Rain falls up to be transformed

into Solomon’s wildflower regalia
that will enter jaded Jerusalem
on the back of a borrowed ass.
This progenitor did not turn rocks into bread
or jump from a cliff onto angels’ wings,

did not transmute the kingdoms of the world
into a gospel made of shiny things.
His retrograde mojo was better at rolling stones
or making rattle and rebel clatter
from Ezekiel’s dry and lifeless bones.

As for me, I wish only to drink spiced wine
that bestows the power of impish Puck,
seduce the sultry brunette behind the castle wall
and gain a kiss on the far side of midnight.
Oh, what pleasant Saturnalia.

Let the periodic table mix and match
as you play me backwards, backwards play me.
Such creative alchemies will never give me pause,
for inversions still lie at the bottom of the rabbit hole.
Effect has become the everlasting cause.

~William Hammett

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