Travelers Welcome

Travelers Welcome

Thursday, January 17, 2013

communicating with the dead
--for ally (because it was her idea)

by John Grochalski

atop a hill in green-wood
we found samuel morse’s grave
which overlooked a half-frozen pond

and before that boss william tweed
his whole family laid out in three tombs
that are some of the oldest here

you said that he was a bad man
and i answered, well, aren’t we all?

basquiat was a hard find
until he snuck up on us
and we saw that his grave was loaded with carved rocks
bus tickets
and a copy of faulkner’s the sound and the fury

but no paints

you laid down your last metro ticket from paris

and i gave jean-michel a pinecone that i’d found
and told all those cold bones to say no to drugs
which still isn’t funny in retrospect

but it was just us for the most part
save the workers digging new landscapes
and the green-wood patrol who slowed down
every time they passed us

peering out of the tinted glass in their warm cars
wondering what two people were doing
strolling around a cemetery in the january cold

it’s just like cops to have no sense of history
or romance

but otherwise it was so fantastic
like we were the last two people on the tip of long island

even loud manhattan loomed quietly in the distance
as if it knew better than to honk and blare its usual

while we stood over leonard bernstein’s final resting place
up on battle hill

gazing at that thunderous beast of a city
we’ve been calling home off and on for almost ten years now

that nearly incomprehensible row of metal and mortar
so infinite and magisterial
i always wonder when
it’ll finally feel like i’m not
seeing it all for the first time

you and i catching those last bits of silence together
before we headed toward those big, black gates of the cemetery
and back out into manic brooklyn

started talking basketball
and comics books again

while the rest of the busy and damned rushed by us
screaming and yelling into cell phones
racing for busses with their packs of crying children

going home for dinner
television and the bedroom

all of us trying so desperately to live out
these little, precious lives that we’ve been given

to their obvious
and blessed ends.

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