In 1516, the Most Serene Republic of Venice confined its Jews to the site of a former foundry. The Venetian word for foundry was geto.
Aubade: The Constitutional
Leone da Modena. The Veneto.
A day like this I should count
among the miracles of living—breath,
a heart that beats, that aches and sings;
even the ecstasy of thirst
or sweat peppering my brow,
fanned by the mercurial breezes
crisscrossing this reserve,
our allotment on earth . . .
why, then, am I unhappy
when all around me
the human pageant whirrs?
This much I can do for
my lost, my sweet and damaged tribe:
each morning I pace the tattered verge
of their Most Serene Republic,
patrol each canal’s fogged sibilance,
chanting a day unlike all others—
and then I count it, and the next,
God willing, and each day thereafter
as a path free of echoes,
a promise with no perimeters,
my foot soles polishing the scarred stones.
Everywhere absence mocks me:
Jimmy, jettisoned like rotten fruit.
Franklin blown away.
Heat aplenty of all kinds,
especially when August blows its horn—
cops and summer and no ventilation
make piss-poor running buddies.
A day just like all the others,
me out here on the streets
skittery as a bug crossing a skillet,
no lungs big enough to strain
this scalded broth into brain and tissues,
plump my arteries, my soul . . .
Voice in my ear hissing Go ahead, leave.
Look around. No gates, no barbed wire.
As if I could walk on water.
As if water ever told one good truth,
lisping her lullabies as she rocks
another cracked cradle of Somalis
until it splits and she can pour
her final solution right through.
Me watching from the other side of the world,
high and dry on this street
running straight as a line of smack,
sun shouting down its glory:
No one’s stopping you.
What are you waiting for?
Today’s the day, I can taste it.
Got my gray sweats pouting in a breeze
so soft, I feel like I’m still wrapped for sleeping
as I head uptown in my undercover power-suit,
bitch sunlight fingering the spaced-out tenements.
This morning there ain’t nothing I can’t do.
This is my territory, I know all of it—
ten long blocks flanked by mighty water.
Walking any Avenue is like riding
a cosmic surfboard on the biggest wave
of the goddam century, the East River
twerking her bedazzled behind
while sky spills coin like a luck-crazed
Vegas granny flush at the slots. Today
I’m gonna make out like a bandit myself:
hook up with my buds to drop
a few shots on the courts, ogle the ladies,
then play the rest of the day
as it comes see where it goes
somewhere over the Hudson
the sun heading home