If I knew
where nowhere is,
I’d wander
to hear what’s there
listen anywhere music charms
be lost
be found out

She lives to arrive
at places that matter
to see a scene
be a decoration
place a mark
on a souvenir

For hours we wandered lost
seeking Carnegie Hall

As her anger trumpeted
I heard an echo of ah’s
voices savoring delights
taxis arriving with honks like geese
that made me chase a mirage
see a sign: Carnegie

I dragged us in to hear
the singers calling for chicken livers

When I saw no oboes
I knew we
had arrived
at the Carnegie Deli

I ordered hot pastrami. She
told me I was in a pickle, while
the bells of doom
pealed in my head, and
I looked for a native New Yorker
to calm her rage
tell her the address for
Carnegie Hall

While I wandered away
through chicken liver
trying to peel the onion
of my tears, to
find an appropriate tongue,
she opened her purse
reached into her anger
pulled out a jar of ultra-hot
jalapeño peppers
stuffed it in my sandwich

She waited to sting me, but
I was lost in gourmet ecstasy
awry in rye
like a cole slaw
waiting for slaughter

She waited to flatten my dignity
as flat as a potato pancake

By the time I returned
her hunger overwhelmed her
and she bit into my sandwich
tears streaming down her cheeks

I inquired
why she cried

Her poor deceased Mother
would have loved New York

She pushed the sandwich in my face. I ate.

She asked about my tears.

I cried too that
her Mother in heaven
left her daughter behind
with the character of
a hot pepper

The pain focused my attention
on a ragged stranger. In payment
I offered him my sandwich, a plea:
please tell my dear wife
how to get to Carnegie Hall

Breathing like a dragon
he gasped, the address
has two 7’s and a 5

Swallowing a gallon of water
he pointed to a street musician
on the corner

I threw a sandwich
in the musician’s case
asked how I get to
Carnegie Hall

With a Knish and ambition, he said– she
ran off with him
I stayed to order a corned beef
and kept my tongue on
the best day of my life

Today she plays the violin.
I stand outside with a sax.

I’m not chopped liver though
’cause the chicks dig me


I told you
not heavy, just
kiss the blue notes. The buzz is

flying in bumble bee blues,
don’t smack that bee flat
if you’re waiting on
blue E honey music. Rush
that nectar through B flat
down to A,
G whiz saying
jump slow soul
or I will
C you to your
flat-seven Flat
downstairs stung, ’cause
I’m missing your kissing, and
your blue note already


The psychic woman
had showed her
rough seas ahead,
said beware the tides
and flowing kisses,
but that seemed like
shallow waters to her

She had a fifth
her thick handkerchief
mopping up her eyes
highly high on her trumpeted mope
slipped on her poor spilled
cocktail of his love kisses
lost crawling
across the stage
where she was to sing beige
before a sea of mahogany tables
over drunks and hecklers
sticky stinky beckoning
bass strings plucking her heart
woe tale wagging about him
the bragging whale
who blew his spout
and left her high and dry.

Seeing her collapsing,
I could not bear her despair,
rose to say,
“I have always loved you,”
and we all stood,
hecklers and all,
to beg the last song

She knew me at last–
kissed me, the little one

Turning from beige to blue
caressing the mike,
she rasped in weeping harmonies
“Stand for me
the stood-up one;
harpoon my love and
sail me to the Port,
wine me down mellow,
me, a cello solo
singing this tale of prophecy:
the big ones get away, and
the little ones stay.”

    Books by Douglas Gilbert
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