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Poem: From "The Legend of Jonathan West"
From "The Legend of Jonathan West"
By Benjamin Nardolilli
...And to Manhattan we all came burning,
Jonathan, and me, the greaser, the hipster,
The future rock star and his wives,
The next great hope, the last saint,
A dozen future accountants, a fencer,
A roofer, vice-presidents, and admirals,
But no one else admirable, too many ambassadors,
No one bearing gifts, only orders, all of us
Young and beautiful, even
In our ugliness we were still gargoyles,
Too young for the world to notice,
Too old to sit and play, though some tried,
They lived a vanity fair and we brought the stories
And the entertainment, the others
Brought the drinks and chairs,
We revived each other, cold water
On flat floors, we were chased out,
Consumed everyone’s experiments
And still never lost our hair until we were in mourning.
The City spoke to us,
Through the skyscrapers, it made holes
In the clouds and revelation came down,
A voice away from all wildernesses
Filled the gaps with a harsh wind,
It spoke out and we listened:
“Oh you pretty delinquent wrecks,
Who does not first come to me
Hating their mother and father,
And his brothers and his sisters,
All those who do not dwell amongst you,
And yes, your own life as well,
Before coming to me, then
You shall not be my disciple,
My following is large, diverse,
Neophytes and acolytes, cardinals,
Street preachers, and rabbis
Thrown in for good measure,
Those who do not carry their crosses and follow me
Cannot be my disciples
I have seen many come to me,
And many leave, do not let others say of you,
‘This man began to build and was not able to finish.’”
Here he would come and settle
Here he would try and find the sword
Among the piles in the gutters,
Under the rusted fences and worn out chairs,
Here he would murder the twentieth century
And give the gift of true life to the twenty-first.
In the city he bloomed, but not as a thinker,
He was an enthusiast,
Spinning our cardinal directions to his liking,
And setting us off to march
Towards destinations he deemed divine,
Where the woods were split
And the paths bent in dimensions.
For all of us he sang, into the night
To read in the morning, taking his sleep
Like hard drink, sipping moments of thunder.
In those eyes was the union
We sought, action and reflection,
Intellect and emotion, the lessons
He taught were the day’s struggles,
We collapsed under the equations
Of the people whirling about,
He found their hearts opened, while
We found them closed, our eyes
Distracted by flames he painted onto the towers...
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