Ozone Park to Zone Five
by Lynne Shapiro
Inspired by Guillaume Apollinaire
Perhaps by next year you'll be ready for freeways
O Brooklyn Bridge, can you envision sunrise on Interstate 805?
You've had enough speed, but are back for more
Welcome to the Coast, where only the autos tire
Run out of essence, rust, fracture
Grandma Moses, put down your palette
No winter scenes here
The route does not submit to the desert
But remains ever new
The masses feed the road
Billboards to please & appease
Take the Normal Heights exit
Buy a Condo in Baja
I merge with the road that feeds the main yellow artery
What a rush to recognize them
At their own speed.
(See Aristotle. See William Gaddis.)
The executive pack races to communicate the word
Radio talks of tabloids talks of radio
You coolly surprise mother with three-letter words
ALL's a detergent
The BAR's down the street
TV and neon: tubes that deliver
America's finest city, cleanest city,
This is the greenest freeway
There's the zoo
Lemon yellow San Diego stewardesses
Take the mainline to town I get off here.
You are a child munching eggies and jam
(Oh, don't turn green!)
You can't swallow and chew to the jump rope beat of striped feet
Touching down on cracked sidewalks
No cracks out west
No weeds or roots pushing through
Faith in pristine continuity in a land with no past.
You are serious about the alphabet
And together with your friend, Jackie
Compose secret words
In the sandbox having to pee
Holding your pants with your left hand
Covering your mouth with the right
Giggling on the hour that
Church bells were ringing.
There is the amphitheater.
Ginsberg warms up
Eight hours of rain
Ash grey San Diego wants to know,
Are you the rain king?
What do you carry in your squeeze box reliquary?
Katie's an angel, but Ginsberg…he's a saint.
Quick changes into --poof -- a dog
Do I dare take a picture?
Increase depth of field?
Focus, focus hocus pocus,
They say he imitates the Maharaja
They say he imitates a man for whom Eastern Religion is the way
He says he is imitating a man who loves his brother
I believe him
Ohm ohm ohm ohm ohm ohm ohm ohm ohm ohm ohm ohm ohm ohm
Rahpsody! He takes flight
Alan howls like the good book tells him to howl
The amphitheater has no ceiling!
Shoot now? Get closer?
Eight hours a bearded man brushes his teeth
Dogs fuck on stage
A seven year old stoops to pick up glass bits
Silently enters my field of rain
Holding the glass out to me
No sun to reflect
You can't make a sound
Sway like Alan
Chant like Alan
I implore you
Broken china on East 77th Street
Grandma Semlock bends to clear away
Pieces of cups and saucers
Remnants of Jackie's Christmas present
you laugh still you are the sacrilegious culprits.
I examine a print under the light
Alan's transformed into a rabbi
Dangling winter scarf turns Talis
A fine range of tones
I finally recognize him
Having thought there was something familial
"You never knew Jack Kerouac"
"You never knew Neil Cassidy"
Ohm ohm ohm ohm ohm ohm ohm ohm ohm ohm ohm
I stood at the entrance to the Pope's Palace
Torn by options
Shadow detail on the door
In Belfast, Guerillas take to the street
Quickly, I choose
High speed film, deep focus
I steal from an old man with dark eyes
As he bends to pick up a coin
Je suis une voleur
I have robbed Apollinaire
I rob Ginsberg
Random moments in time elude me
To become unsolved mysteries in black and white
Last night, I dreamt that -
in the grainy silver pearls of a chromide photo mural -
I witnessed her abduction.
Had I not walked by
at this pace
At this distance
In this perfect light
I would not have witnessed
the horror that lies in wait
beneath the classic work of art.
Tell me, Minor White,
If you were to take my picture
Right here right now
What zone would I be in?
Pieces fall through…
There was a time we used glass plates
Lynne Shapiro taught a Dada and Surrealist Practicum at the New School/Parsons School of Design for many years during which time Apollinaire’s “Zone” played an important part. She is currently an adjunct professor at a community college and jack-of-all trades at a K-8 public school that she helped found. This past year, she’s had poems published in SLAB and Myslexia, and essays published in Hiss Quarterly, Tiny Lights: A Journal of Personal Narrative, and in an upcoming anthology, Mourning Sickness.