Friday, April 10, 2015

ny vertigo
At the request of the April birthday girl, our family jaunted briefly to New York City this week.  She had visited with her 8th grade class and wanted to return to MOMA, and we also found our way to the newly-reopened Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum.  Other stops in our thoroughly mid- and upper-Manhattan stay included the Magnet Theater for an improvisational comedy show, Zabar's and two of the six apartments I lived in between 1986 and 1991.

Everything is different but the same, and the feeling I had stepping off the bus was different but exactly the same.  Here's a poem I wrote in 1986 and revised for a workshop with Daisy's class in 2012 (they wrote poetry in response to their NYC trip too).  Now I find it's time for a BIG revision--time for a companion poem, or should it be contrast or competitor poem?  This second version is rough, but I wonder if I've captured my dizzyingly changed perspective...

New York Vertigo, 1986

What I am I’m huge I’m high.
Arrive in Red Hook subdeep July
  I alight. afire and mighty
  queen of the borough.

Arrive and then descend.
I go vertical.  I dive.
  upside under bricks and bridges.
Submarining blind.
Where periscope disturbed. ascending
   to this island state.  a nation
   of buildings crushing up and looming.
I’m flattened.  I’m pinioned
   to Manhattan’s curbed & canyoned floor.
Who ballooned deflated.
   barely standing five feet high.  I
   glimpse sky between scaffolds.
This vertigo is not from heights
   Brooklyn. or otherwise

--HM 1986/2012
all rights reserved 
New York Vertigo, 2015

What I am I’m slow. I’m older.
Arrive Manhattan subSpring, undry
  I alight. unchill and stilling--
  queen of Dysurbia.

Arrive and then revolve.
I stay horizontal, spin.
   inside beyond stoops and scaffolds
Telescoping time.
Where memory destroyed. pretending:
   I could still belong.   formation
   of people crushing up and blooming.
I mattered,  additioned
   to this island’s vast and varied more.
Who defined belated.
   daring standing eight feet deep, I
   glimpse me between marriage.
This vertigo evolves from states
   Empire, and otherwise

 --HM 2015
all rights reserved 

One of the things that it's EASY to remember about living in New York is what I was wearing--what I shopped for, what I could barely afford and saved for, what I could barely afford and bought anyway, what I felt totally cool in and what I wished I hadn't worn. (Sidebar:  it was NOT spring in NYC this week and I knew that and still ended up wearing not quite the right thing despite my detailed strategic planning.  Sigh.)  I'll be exploring some of these sartorial considerations in my guest post over at Author Amok on Monday, where Laura Shovan is asking "What Are You Wearing to National Poetry Month?"  Don't miss this series of posts on clothing-related poems!

The round-up today is another NPM celebration with Laura Purdie Salas as our host--connect with many poems at Writing the World for Kids!


  1. As usual, you blow me away with your form which creates itself as it needs to be. The mirroring is phenomenal and a little disturbing to someone on the same path through time. It would be a shame to separate them.

  2. Wow! I love the rich language. The parallel structure. The glimpse of perspectives evolving over time. The two poems reinforce each other, & seeing them together increases the experience.

    1. Now see, "evolving" is a word I should have used and hadn't, so here's a revision already of the Redux. Thanks for the critiques, Liz and JoAnn!

  3. I think contrast, not compete. Each is unique and true, but together they are truly dizzying!

  4. Replies
    1. Oops sorry Heidi. I always get you two mixed up. You both have fun blog names.

  5. I'm in with the "like side-by-side" crowd. (Like skyscrapers next to each other?) So much great imagery and turns of phrase in both. Love "this island's vast and varied more."

  6. Ooh, so many great words here! Suspended, Upended, Submarining, Telescoping... there's so much in these poems, as there should be... I mean, we're talking about NYC! (I completely wore the wrong thing last time we were there, too... and know that feeling well of it seeming just the same!) Thanks for sharing the poems side by side. Nice!

  7. My vertigo is from the incredible word play and echoes in these poems, Heidi! Bravo!

  8. I love the contrast between the two poems--same place but different perspectives.

  9. Heidi, here is a case for rereading and close reading. I read each poem separately feeling the pulsebeat of NYC but then decided to read each stanza side by side to get a deeper look at what you created. What a wonderful idea to capture Manhattan as a compare/contrast.