Breaking Through In Brooklyn

The Brooklyn Bridge stands strident, illuminated downriver,
cast in five thousand littered lights which dance and flicker
as it meets Monolithic Manhattan mounted, and all it means,
fractured, faded sunlight forcing itself between the cities seams.
The Empire State is shifting in shades at the end of the day
just as I’d become accustomed to its settled state of grey,
I’d crept up it by floors in a crowded elevator the day before,
and now its size creeps up on me as I watch it from a facing shore.

I realise then how small I am in comparison, how small I’ll always be,
but then I realise that regardless of size I’m right where I need to be.
A pinprick in welcoming Williamsburg, a ghost just passing through,
re-visiting places I’ve already been to just to make them feel new.
The sand settled in the sole of my shoe seems a firm reminder
that I’ve travelled this far somehow, and can still go further
I barely made it to America, but now I’m making it with ease;
making waves, from Georgia to DC to a rented flat in Queens.

Because I’m no longer anchored anymore, here I’m untethered,
sailing along freely in the stormiest of weathers, but not weathered.
Buoyant beside the boats on the river, which are casting choruses
out over the bay, barely reaching the nearby Brooklyn beaches.
I can’t hear them anyway, seated there huddled under headphones,
as the breeze over the water kicks my hanging hair up into horns,
further stirring the goosebumps on my arms as another song starts,
as the moment becomes monumental just past the promenades.

All of life, right there, as the waves laps against the bridge supports,
as the evening planes fly overhead from JFK or LaGuardia airports.
Thick threads, traced amongst the clouds and stitched into the sky –
white lines amongst crescendos of crimson colours above where I lie,
where the breath catches in my throat like choked words unspoken
as my eyes close and splinter the sinking skyline, leaving it broken.
These lights, this place, my pale hand clutching at a gravel iPhone
everything so much bigger than myself five thousand miles from home.

I’ve spent my whole life treading water to the tune of another sad song,
wasting time on half-hearted rhymes and still writing them wrong,
drifting from one disappointing port to another, waiting for more –
always expecting something better to appear on the next distant shore.
Waiting was as problematic as the patient pulse of my wooden heart;
I should’ve been seeking it out myself instead of dwindling at the start.
Flying to America was the surest way to steady my shaking left hand
which is finally still as it strokes a smooth straight line into Brooklyn sand.

The skyscrapers in the distance grow closer as the record swells
and the river dwindles to a stream, beaching boats atop the shells.
I could swim across it and mount a pier on Manhattan’s east side,
or drift downtown past Battery Park by following the tumultuous tide.
Either way, I don’t feel like a shipwreck stranded on the sand anymore.
I’m pulling together a sodden mass of bloated boards and broken bones,
patching my ripped sails and plucking barnacles from my bloated skin
to cast off up from the port where I’m perched and find a way to begin.

So I decide that I’ll keep on sailing north near these sandy shores,
until I find a comfortable coastline that looks enough like home,
where my blistered feet can stand firm there instead of sink;
it could be a continent away, but it’s probably closer than I think.
It could have been Brooklyn, but my visit here is shore leave, temporary
and I have somewhere else to be going now I’m done being stationary.
So I leave the beach behind but leave the sand in the soul of my shoe,
set forth again into the city, soul searching after a breakthrough.

Electric currents course through my veins like the rivers currents,
sparking me back into life as I wander awestruck through the boroughs,
along Brooklyn streets lined with lively restaurants and brimming bars,
past cheap-imitation English pubs and tattoo parlours underneath the stars.
Everywhere I look, it seems brighter, sounds louder, looks better,
and I find that I’m no longer shivering underneath my baggy sweater.
Everything everywhere, everything alive as I head back to my rented bed
to dream of fortunate futures, New York a warm hum inside my head.

Brooklyn, May 2016

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