Mayakovsky In New York: A Found Poem

written by Annie Dillard

Mayakovsky In New York: A Found Poem

— Annie Dillard

New York: You take a train that rips through versts.
It feels as if the trains were running over your ears.

For many hours the train flies along the banks
of the Hudson about two feet from the water. At the stops,
passengers run out, buy up bunches of celery,
and run back in, chewing the stalks as they go.

Bridges leap over the train with increasing frequency.

At each stop an additional story grows
onto the roofs. Finally houses with squares
and dots of windows rise up. No matter how far
you throw back your head, there are no tops.

Time and again, the telegraph poles are made
of wood. Maybe it only seems that way.

In the narrow canyons between the buildings, a sort
of adventurer-wind howls and runs away
along the versts of the ten avenues. Below
flows a solid human mass. Only their yellow
waterproof slickers hiss like samovars and blaze.
The construction rises and with it the crane, as if
the building were being lifted up off the ground
by its pigtail. It is hard to take it seriously.

The buildings are glowing with electricity; their evenly
cut-out windows are like a stencil. Under awnings
the papers lie in heaps, delivered by trucks.
It is impossible to tear oneself away from this spectacle.

At midnight those leaving the theaters drink a last soda.
Puddles of rain stand cooling. Poor people scavenge
bones. In all directions is a labyrinth of trains
suffocated by vaults. There is no hope, your eyes
are not accustomed to seeing such things.

They are starting to evolve an American gait out
of the cautious steps of the Indians on the paths of empty
Manhattan. Maybe it only seems that way.


Anonymous submission.

About the poet


Annie Dillard

Annie Dillard (born April 30, 1945) is an American author, best known for her narrative prose in both fiction and non-fiction. She has published works of poetry, essays, prose, and literary criticism, as well as two novels and one memoir. Her 1974 work Pilgrim at Tinker Creek won the 1974 Pulitzer Prize for General Nonfiction. Dillard taught for 21 years in the English department of Wesleyan University, in Middletown, Connecticut. Annie Dillard was the oldest of three daughters in her family. Early childhood details can be drawn from Annie Dillard's autobiography, An American Childhood (1987), about growing up in the Point Breeze neighborhood of Pittsburgh. It starts in 1950 when she was five. Like Russell Baker's Growing Up, Dillard's memoir An American Childhood focuses on her parents...

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