Mini-Site by Michael Benedikt
[Last Modified 6/9 & 6/27/00]
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F O U R T H O F J U L Y
F I R E W O R K S
AND NEW YORK AND NEW JERSEY & LAURA & ME
New Jersey, along the western Hudson shore,
where my sweet lady Laura doth dwell, in handsome
high-rise facing Upper West Side Manhattan, hath big, natural cliffs (they're called "The Palisades")
But compared for example to New York City, only relatively small firework-displays on July Fourth.
On the other hand, in Manhattan, along the eastern Hudson shore where I doth dwell in low-rise,
in the area just south of Columbia University
We can see really immense Municipal fireworks on July 4th, but have only relatively tiny & mostly
Known informally--among enlightened Columbia University students dorming thereabouts, & also
various long-term local West Side residents like me--as "The Stone Declevities"
Which drop down via various zig-zagging stone stairways, from Riverside Drive to Riverside Park
& Since, one Fourth of July nite, I was not smart enuf to accept my darling lady's invitation
to scoot over to her lofty picture-window'd apartment o'er on opposite Hudson shore, there to behold
in panorama NYC's grand & glorious whiz-bangs co-sponsored by Macy's Dep't. Store;
& projected o'er Manhattan's skyline from several sites in Central Park & also various
great big barges anchored in East River
(The angle-of-vision from my particular digs for our grand National event, as Laura hath wisely pointed out
to me, being far, far less than optimal)
As darkness fell, from my apartment & down those stone stairways athwart Stone Declevities we did run,
With lovely Laura carrying champagne-bottle & a couple of long-stemmed plastic glasses; & I a wicker
picnic-basket replete with apple-pie, petite-fours & napkins galore, plus a US-flag-patterned tablecloth
--Which was certainly suitably celebrative of us, we trusted, on the night of the Anniversary of Our
Country's umpteenth Birthday. Anyway
As darkness fell, what a great view from Riverside Park we did have, of the stately, stone-faced Palisades;
plus heard we many distant, miniature firework explosions, like tiny, muffled popguns going off,
accompanied by faintly flashing lights somewhere o'er on distant, misty Jerseyside;
& As we stood there holding hands, or sat down duly for serious smooching on bench of Riverside Park
facing westward towards Hudson & New Jersey in the opposite direction from
NYC's fireworks (with tablecloth spread out between us, & contents of wicker basket
tumbled out upon it, whilst sipping champagne from long-stemmed plastic glasses)
Midst merry company of miscellaneous raucous zealots detonating cherrybombs & treetop rockets all
--In two senses, together my lovely laughing Love & I, got almost Bombed!
New York City's & Macy's USA Birthday display we heard but distantly, thudding tremendously above
but 'way behind us, from Central Park afar & those barges still further off over in East River
--But alas, invisibly, due to the direction in which, entranced together whilst we held hands, my Love & I
were steadfastly gazing;
Best July 4th display we could see
that year, gazing
across the starlit, sparkling Hudson waters
(Besides various fleeting flashings from wing-lights of great Kennedy & Newark Airport airplanes plying
their Hudson River route, loaded with apostate hordes of American vacation-travelers bound for
& Tinier twinklings from smaller airplanes seeking aerial views of pyrotechnic entertainment on
that night, plus madly-blinking running-lights of nautical pleasurecraft jockeying for position in
perilously close proximity& also trying to get a better look);
& Besides far-off-blazing chains of lights draping distant, uptown towers of George Washington Bridge
like some intricate, miniature toy neatly linking my own, radiant New York State & lucent
shorelines of Laura's New Jersey, dotted with assorted scatter'd neon advertising-signs just beyond
The Palisades winking on & off incessantly)
Were some faintly luminous twirlings on the far-off Western Hudson horizon, which my NJ-
Geography-experienced, smart & lovely Laura did identify for me immediately,
As emanating "bravely, from a tiny little mini-park, located at the far end of North Bergen...."
Thinking over that July 4th date &
picnic now, I remember how it suddenly occurred to me towards
midnight, even as--panting & laughing & with dwindling fireworks still thudding o'erhead--Laura & I
dashed back up stone stairways, still carrying empty champagne-glasses & by then also empty
champagne-bottle as either souvenirs or else (who knows?) perhaps to recycle--& even as we two raced
semi-stumbling back up to my apartment for the balance of the evening for various private July 4th
fireworks of our own--
That, to the scatter'd groups of carefree merry-makers still assembled relatively riotously back down there
My Love & I--on our bench alone together there & holding hands & hugging & smooching & gazing into
each others' eyes & not paying much attention to them or to anything else in the world
for that matter except of course for each other--
May have looked like the proverbial "Two People in the Wrong Place at The Wrong Time."
--Yes, especially as we were running back up to my apartment & away, I wondered, did we look that way?
But I remember even now that (as together my Love & I ran swiftly by) some passing, good-natured stranger
wearing party-hat, did single us out from various sidewalk strollers to wish us--
somehow as if personally--a "Happy Fourth of July";
As if despite our total involvement with each other, & our laughter, we two, too, might have had
something serious to do
With Our USA's Happy Birthday
--& With a certain Originality, on "Independence Day".
'The Fourth of July and New York and New Jersey
& Laura and Me" was drafted in l986.
The poem was completed for 4th of July l999; & slightly revised again, for 4th of July 2000.
© Michael Benedikt 2000. All rights reserved.
Michael Benedikt has published five collections of poetry: The Badminton at Great Barrington; or, Gustave Mahler & The Chattanooga Choo-Choo (Univ. Pittsburgh Press, l980); and with Wesleyan Univ. Press, Night Cries (prose poems, l976); Mole Notes (prose poems, 1971); Sky (verse, l970); and The Body (verse, l968). Books he has edited include the first full-length anthology in English of global prose poetry: The Prose Poem: An International Anthology (Dell/Laurel, l976); & the first such anthology of French Surrealist Poetry: The Poetry of Surrealism (Little, Brown & Co., 1975). Benedikt is also co-Editor of 3 anthos. of 20th-Century "Poetic Theatre" from the French, German, and Spanish (E.P. Dutton), and is translator of many plays in those volumes. A former Poetry Editor of The Paris Review, his editorial selections are represented in The Paris Review Anthology (Norton, l990). His work appears in circa 60 anthologies of US poetry. He has taught at Bennington, Sarah Lawrence, Hampshire, and Vassar College/s; and at Boston U.; and has read from his poetry at many colleges, universities & bookstores around the USA. He lives in Manhattan, NYC. E-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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OTHER BENEDIKT LINKS
Info. at About.com re Background of Benedikt Websites via
'The Compleat Michael Benedikt: Poet Laureate of the Net.' Includes Links to other Benedikt Websites.
Michael Benedikt pages at Academy of American Poets. Pages include a poem from 4 of his 5 published poetry collections, & a more complete bio. than is given here. Includes Links to other Benedikt Websites.
SELECTED BENEDIKT SITES
Theatre, Film & TV Poems, other poems about Entertainment World & Showbiz, including 3 new short poems, 'Ringo & Rita' staring Ringo Starr, & two prose poems including a prose poem praising Mae West. Also, info on Benedikt's 4 anthologies of 20th-Century . (Surrealistic plays from 'The Theatre of The Absurd,' mostly on the funny side, & many translated by Benedikt). With Agent Contact Info. for obtaining play performance rights. Includes additional links to other entertaining Benedikt poems about Entertainment
Thesaurus and Other New Verse, with verse from Benedikt's
entitled OF: Site contains a complete list of Other Benedikt Links
by Michael Benedikt, prose poems from Benedikt's
4th poetry book, Night Cries--also a review
from The London Times Literary Supplement discussing Night Cries and prose poetry generally
Brief Prose Poems by Michael Benedikt, shorter poems from Night Cries--also an interview on prose poetry from Poetry Society of America Newsletter, & a brief essay on "The Future of The American Prose Poem"
About.com Featured Site Award
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