Brooklyn Narcissus

by Paul Blackburn

Paul Blackburn

Straight rye whiskey, 100 proof
you need a better friend?
Yes. Myself.

The lights
the lights
the lonely lovely fucking lights
and the bridge on a rainy Tuesday night
Blue/green double-stars the line
that is the drive and on the dark alive
gleaming river
Xmas trees of tugs scream and struggle


Drops on the train window wobble . stream
My trouble
it is her fate to never learn to make
anything grow
be born or stay
Harbor beginnings and that other gleam . The train
is full of long/way/home and holding lovers whose
flesh I would exchange for mine
The rain, R.F.,

sweeps the river as the bridges sweep
Nemesis is thumping down the line
But I have premises to keep
& local stops before I sleep
& local stops before I sleep

The cree-
ping train
rocks across
I hear
the waves below lap against the piles, a pier
from which ships go
to Mexico

a sign which reads


“The flowers died when you went away”

Manhattan Bridge
a bridge between
we state, one life and the next, we state
is better so
is no
backwater, flows
between us is
our span our bridge our
naked eyes
open her
bridging whatever impossibility. . . PACE!



“The flowers died. . .”
Of course the did

Not that I was a green thing in the house

I was once.
No matter.

The clatter of cars over the span, the track
the spur
the rusty dead/pan ends of space
of grease

We enter the tunnel.

The dirty window gives me back my face

The Selected Poems of Paul Blackburn (Persea Books, 1989)

Paul Blackburn's picture

Paul Blackburn is best known as a Black Mountain Poet because of his role as contributing editor and distributor of the Black Mountain Review: and his subsequent inclusion with the group in Donald Allen’s influential New American Poetry anthology (1960). Many unaware writers and critics fail to discern the complex forms, the sly intelligence, and the reserved elegance of that lyrical gift.... Blackburn was as socially and literarily accessible as lesser poets, and yet he was cut from the fabric of genius.

Last updated December 24, 2014