Category Archives: Poetry

Mapping Gowanus: 2nd ave. between 5th st. and 4th st.

Concrete Thoughts

 Brad Vogel
6.12-6.15, 2019
 Fiery triceratops skulls know winter is coming
By bulky bureaucratic beige-tastic blandity
Rope-bridged between these
            I sway
Asphalt planks
Cables twined of mugwort
Seaside goldenrod
      Parole officers pa
                  troll below
Permanently bathed in red light
I don’t need sign blare emphatic
To tell me
Through growl-whir chants
Of each turnaround car
Stalked by black and white orbs of the state
            This is the END
Here on 2nd
Between 5th and 4th
Though there is no 4th
Only a Basin to guide me
And it took just a second or three
Amidst milkweed bothered bottles
To figure out if this was all a ruse
This feral pocket where our CSOs
Avalanche when gods weep uncontrollably
Human waste heading for herons
And hoping for the filtrations
Of ribbed mussels
This rife patch where old Belgian block
Collapses, Knieveling out over the brink
Facing down a hangry Gowanus
And slowly losing the encounter
Bulkheads still blowing out
As if the made land’s
Belt could not handle
All these meals of carcinogens
With time for dessert
Here, rope-bridged, I sit
Slung, musing
Caught between creek-side tulip tree
Giver of Lenape canoes
And concrete blocks
The Sleeper’s toys
Where I first joined the Dredgers
In exile, as Gary paddle-boarded by
Red, toxic-bottomed canoes
Locked by a box that advised
On a rope bridge anchored
By a sinking, musket-sparing
Marylander hand
Disappearing into muck
Redcoat shot pelting the calamus
As Washington weeps on the hill
And a billionaire mother trying to escape
Through great hollow flooding garages
Come down from the 35th floor
Her children wailing
In thrice-rezoned future
As hurricane surge breaches
The great mouth gate
One final time
- Here I muse at the cast
Sewer cover constellations
And know at last
What the sign means
I lay rope-bridged
Looking for the few stars
And LaGuardia-bound
Meteors through
Gas-drip willow leaves
In a trick garden
Native but not native
Chemicals creeping up
With full aroma
Here between my
Ankle-bracelet fitting
And the incessant beeping
Of my 1st or 3rd
Midnight salt pickup
Between the dredger
Lifejacketed on his barge
And the secretary
Whose shawl remains
In fluorescent rain
Black through the windows
High overhead
Here between full-leafed
Trees of heaven and
Their dying branches
Between chained S.S. Oops
And sad coffee break benches
Between sleeping buses
Tourist red and Orthodox yellow
And a glacial outwash plain
Between tugboats bulling
Between belabored barges
And a kid on his bike
With a camera
And nothing better to do
Between heavy June twilight
And the hard all-sumac rise
Of a February dawn
All these rope bridges
I cross at once, at risk
Intersect in me
Radiate out from me
Undulates of some strange, time-spanning
Extremophile tide
Rays working out slowly
From some dark Gowanus sun
I hold these rusted green railings
And walk across
In all directions