Something is dragging behind us as we scrape
past the puddles on flat crowns of warehouses
blanketing Woodside which reflect or deflect
the afternoon sky that today resembles a momentary

stay (a warmth) a treasure-filled hole beneath windows
where air conditioners go when they’re not stolen,
below Laundromats and nail salons, the graffitied
flipsides of billboards, Diamond Autobody Repair,

one guy on his roof hauling smiling plastic snowmen
through a half-opened window four days before
Thanksgiving as the afternoon sky (late) turns slowly
from gold to graphite—this alchemy of pool halls and

resolute (stripped) flipsides of every building you can
possibly imagine moving at the speed of Flushing
of Auburndale of watch the gap, the red-gold light
bouncing off the satellite dishes reaching sideways

like catchers’ mitts tagging us out, the red-gold light
skittering off facades of Archie Bunker houses attached
at the hip making them glow like downtown steel-drum
fires hands warming over (watch the gap) this station is

Broadway and someone sits down, then we go or are
thrown forward so that all the roofs pitch at (exactly)
the same angle until the bricks are dappled with krylon
the cement is dappled with krylon the tar is dappled

with traffic below us, on each seat a discarded New York
Post open to Sports or Page Six (who walks too fast
to drag it even to the trash) while the 4:43 cuts through
this air thick with messages, shoots us past the backs

of houses that carry impenetrable letters for us to read
in a flash of dear bullet, dear bubble, dear houses
unlucky enough to butt up against these tracks,
dear flooding flooded marsh that’s been sinking

the Cross Island Expressway entrance ramp since
I was a kid, dear hordes of parked cars waiting
for their commuters, dear ads for Radio City’s
Christmas Spectacular, you are whatever’s

the opposite of façade, of put-on-a-good-face
and I try and try and try to leave you hard, but
we are shaped like futures of lead blown from
the barrel, skittering over the tracks like dice

cast from the cups of guys who sit on crates
on corners. They discuss the weather. They
discuss the Korean Church, the one that says
in gold on mesh: Is it nothing to you, all you

who pass by? Lamentations for cleared out
Willets Point the chop shops and quick buck
alchemy shacks that made cars run from nothing
but something is still dragging behind us it’s

not cans or bullet casings or nostalgia not
my entire aftermarket childhood or whatever
they dredged from the Sound this morning
thrashing, hauled up with the red-gold light.

 

 

 

meitnerErika Meitner is the author, most recently, of Makeshift Instructions for Vigilant Girls (Anhinga Press, 2011) and Ideal Cities (HarperCollins, 2010), which was a 2009 National Poetry Series winner. Her fourth book, Copia, is forthcoming in the fall of 2014 from BOA Editions.  She is currently an associate professor of English at Virginia Tech, where she teaches in the MFA program.

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