For All the Drunk Mothers and All the Sailing Ships That Tremble like the Oceans on Which They Ride

Photograph by Jose Padua
I can’t see you in this confusion of skyscrapers,
you young drunk mothers of Manhattan, pushing
your strollers up and down the avenues

and sideways down the streets. What sails
above you are thought clouds filled with misspelled
but beautiful words of half-sleep wisdom; what lies

beneath you are three hundred years of dead city landscape,
a concrete mural of history written by outlaws and scam artists
before they collapsed under the weight

of the cold heavy blood in their veins;
corruption and murder, business as sleight of hand
to wrestle the downtrodden who rise, momentarily,

back down to the levels below ground,
to all the lower levels of loam and clay.
And we sell and sell this image of us

as saints who only occasionally sin and are sequestered
by class are then reformed like the newest billboard,
the new brand, and all our beautiful new ideas.

So you give birth like this, and you sail like that.
Everyone who came in on a ship is less likely to sail.
And I feel like a drunk again even when there’s only

black liquid and sugar in my cup,
because everything is a penumbra of dirt and filth,
crawling like ants around a discarded plate,

everything except that which floats or flies.

-Jose Padua

Photograph by Jose Padua


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