Bart Schaneman


I know now why the poets stayed.
It’s been months since I left and still –

I was riding a bike through Carroll Gardens at dawn,
trying to make a decision not to hurt anyone.

On the waterfront in Red Hook,
the lights of Manhattan bright against a dark sky,
a paper cup of red wine between my knees.

I was afraid when the man from the block
stood over me on the stoop and asked me
if I wanted to go to the corner and “get some pussy.”

Cheese, crackers, and champagne
in the back row of some Soho cinema.

I was too broke to pay for the concerts in the park,
but I had friends I could sit with on blankets
and hear the music as the bats ate the fireflies.

The house on Lexington Avenue in Bed-Stuy,
with all those warm-hearted people.

I was bad to people when I was trying to be good to myself.
I was bad to myself when I was trying to be good to people.

Lonely trips to Rockaway Beach with other lonely souls
I didn’t talk to then and don’t talk to now.

I was jealous of the seagulls.
They knew why they were there.

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