(Man)hattan – by Denmark Laine

To my sister

I’d like to talk to you about men
but it becomes a map of the New York subway;
as if I knew where Lenox Ave begins
and Malcolm X Blvd ends,
or how to escape the birth canal of the Hudson
or get back from the Freudian tunnels under 116th.

You traced a dancer’s angles around Greenwich.
The city lines turn sharply choreographed as
Times Square scooped up Broadway in its arms
to the applause of Grand Central where

I’ve never felt more effeminate
surrounded by erections of concrete.

Let me try again.
When I think of myself as a man
I lie down beside an Ice Age and
watch a spermatozoa under glass,
a grain of rice on a chessboard…

…this isn’t any better.

I’d like to tell you our mother
cut open a red yam
and there you were.

I’d like to tell you every man you meet
is a Jeff Buckley song he never got to write

but they’re an ugly grid excused as efficiency;
block after block of sturm und drang
shouting over each other
that every inch equals a mile.

denmark laineDenmark Laine is a St. Louis poet, novelist and music critic whose work has been featured on Fox 2 KTVI, Subprimal Poetry, STL TV Live, the St. Louis Poetry Slam, Eleven Magazine, Bad Jacket, Spartan Press and Book of Matches. He has a BFA from Southern Illinois University Edwardsville and is the author of Smalltown Kings, Thorazine Ice Cream Parlor, The Gods of Autumn, Exile On Cherokee Street and The Absinthe Fountain.