Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Stone Canyons

The grimace flies by,
the trickle of pedestrians
tucked into overcoats and suspicion.

There is no conversation on the underground bullet,
Fifth Avenue a stampede of meaningless strut.
Taxis weave, leaving yellow ribbons on the street.

Hookers pose in Times Square like mannequins.
There is no life in the museum.
Freeze frame: everything is silent.

Picture: copyright, William Hammett, 2007


Lane said...

I really like this snapshot of an insular society. The third line captures this beautifully.

And the photo? Wow. Where was that taken? The light on the buildings is stunning.

Jo said...

Love those taxi ribbons, great image, and tucked into overcoats and suspicion. Wonderful.

WillThink4Wine said...

Billy, I was blown away by the photograph and title. I let them soak in before I read on.

"a stampede of meaningless strut"-You've captured the cityscape magnificently.


p.s. I'm so glad I found you through OSI. My sister Janice (My Bellavia) and I can't wait to read one of your books!

Raven said...

Exquisite photo of my old home. Trying to figure out where the picture was taken but not finding the answer in my head. Your poem, as always is beautiful. I especially like the third line.

SandyCarlson said...

You've captured the strange, sterile silence of the City despite its frenetic movement and its various poses. Wow.
Writing in Faith: Poems

Janice Thomson said...

This was awesome William!
'Fifth Avenue a stampede of meaningless strut.' - I absolutely love this line - it speaks volumes.
What a great read this was.

Charles Gramlich said...

Great piece. We got your book in the mail today. Looking forward to having a day to start it soon.

Beloved Dreamer said...

Billy, after years of going to school in NYC. You have captured it in a painted still life of indifference. The silence is so great as each of us is alone and deserted in the roar of the life city.
Wonderful read. It is NYC and it's lonely canyons. It reminds me of my favorite S&G song.Great!

love, Melanie

ChrisEldin said...

Reminds me of one of my favorite songs, The Sounds of Silence."

I hope you have a chance to pop over for one (or all) all the contests remaining!

Also, I'm putting your poem on my sidebar as the highlight of the week. It's this one:

Rusted railroad tracks
buckle beneath the water tower.

The hard yellow sun
pulls dandelions from a rotting grade.

Breath is shallow, short,
arteries twisted away from ties that bind.

I stutter-step through gravel,
recalling your journey away from the heart.

Miladysa said...

Wonderful imagery Billy!

My favourite line?

"tucked into overcoats and suspicion."

gautami tripathy said...

Billy, this is so good. You create great visuals!

Sorry I have not visited you lately, what with moving and all that!

writtenwyrdd said...

Lots of great lines. The title is a term I've thought of myself when looking at high rises. I also think of the nose-stinging dusty smell of damp pavement under the first splashes of rain.

Cities from above remind me of sea urchins, too. The live ones.

My favorite line is "meaningless strut".

Sarah Hina said...

You've really captured the sense of alienation between the people and the city. There is a wealth of momentum, but no connection. That silence hurts.

One of my favorites, Billy.

Billy said...

Lane, thanks. I took the photo from the top of some tall building in NYC ... lol, can't recall which one.

Jo, the speeding taxis really do look like ribbins--they drive like madmen up there!

Barb, OSI is so great! Sandy and Andree do a fantastic job. I didn't know you and My Bellavia were sisters! And yes, God has given me a message telling everyone to buy my John Lennon fantasy book! I'm not getting rich, but it's selling. ROFL.

Raven, I can recall where I took the pic. It might have been from Rockefeller Center, but I'm just not sure. Thanks for the lovely comment.

Sandy, muchas gracias. Whenever I have been in New York City, it has been such a contrast with New Orleans, where pedestrians will smile and say hi. In NYC, everyone's face is aimed at the pavement and not a lot of people look into your face. That is, I confess, a gross generalization.

Janice, thanks. I love NYC, but could never live there.

Charles, thanks. Hope you enjoy the book. Garrison Keillor said he never wrote one for which he didn't want to change many passages after it hit the shelves. I feel the same. Most people seem to have enjoyed it thus far.

Melanie, It's kind of a surrealistic poem, in which the noise is absent from all the frenetic activity. Thanks for the kind response.

Chris, thanks so much for the sidebar addition. I'm hoping to take part in your festivities this week, but the past few weeks have left me no time because of work, which is why I'm posting so infrequently. This damn recession is making me work longer hours.

Miladysa, thanks. Line three seems to be the favorite this time around.

Guatmai, thanks. No problem about the visits. I haven't been able to post much myself.

Written, I could never live someplace without a lot of trees.

Thanks, Sarah. I thought I'd try a different take on the OSI prompt of desert/deserted.

rebecca said...


Such perfect unity in the title, picture and poem. In all the years I've looked at photos of NYC, I've never seen them as stone canyons. Now, it does seem very apropos and your picture has captured that so perfectly.

The poem - excellent in its stone, cold and hard imagery. A city teeming with people....and all disconnected...each a stone canyon in itself.

Tina Trivett said...

Wonderful imagery in this one Billy...perfectly worded....and sad.

paisley said...

oh that was nice billy... i so enjoy it when the poet takes a different path on the prompt... excellent....

J. Andrew Lockhart said...

the last word being "sileny" says a lot to me. the "loudness" of it leaves.....

Lisa said...

This is consummate Manhattan. Just wonderful. Every line is perfect, but I did linger over the third...

raine said...

A perfect photograph, freeze-framed and captured in words.

"Fifth Avenue a stampede of meaningless strut."

Well done!

spacedlaw said...

This feels like an ice desert.
Cruel but - one feels - accurate.

Billy said...

Rebecca, thanks so much for a great response. Glad you liked the poem.

Tina, it is indeed a poem of isolation among the masses--a sad state of affairs indeed.

paisley, it was indeed a different take on the prompt. (But you are the master in that department -:)

Andrew, the poem actually has a basis in reality. When I've been in NYC, the people on the street or driving seemed totally disconnected from reality, each in his or her own world, and hence the silence.

Lisa, I can take Manhattan for about a week at a time, and then I want my pine trees again lol.

raine, the "meaningles strut" phrase came out of nowhere. The more I looked at it on the page, the more I liked it. Thanks :)

Spacedlaw--yes, I think an "ice desert" is a really good description!!! I think you hit the nail on the head!

Britta Coleman said...

Beautiful photo. I also liked the "meaningless strut" moment, and the "Freeze frame" end makes a perfect landing.

Geraldine said...

This was fabulous Billy! You have captured the spirit and desolation of the big city, so vividly and succintly. Well done. Photo was perfect too.


Absolute Vanilla (& Atyllah) said...

Powerful and disturbing piece, Billy. The insular imagery conveys the message so strongly. Very well done.

Billy said...

Britta, thanks! I checked your blog yesterday but it looked like you were still away! Welcome back!

Geraldine, thanks so much. The photo unfortunately has two small bits of railing at the bottom. I couldn't lean over any farther ... which was probably good lol.

absolute, I ain't no city boy, though I clean up well _:) Thanks!

MyBellavia said...

Billy, this is absolutely great! I was really stumped with this weeks prompt. I am learning so much at OSI. Your view and perspective with this weeks prompt just struck me over.

During one of my trips to New York years ago I remember looking out the hotel window, down at the busyness of it all, and I remember feeling so alone, as I felt when I read your poem. The imagery in each line is excellent! Thanks for this!

Billy said...

MB, thanks. THat's just the way I felt as well!

Marja said...

Very impressive I love the impression
"a stampede of meaningless strut"
and the image of taxis weave, leaving yellow ribbons on the street
Your have great talent

JP/deb said...

Love the opening line on this poem - makes me feel like I've just walked out onto the busy grimacing street. Awesome photo too!


p.s. had a bad person trolling my site, you can now find me at www.janepoet.blogspot.com

Suzan Abrams said...

I really, really like your poems, Billy.
There's no doubt you tackle a cross-range of subjects with perfect ease and you make even quiet moods clourful to the eye.

Lana Gramlich said...

Wow, Billy...Awesome! Personally I tend to hold a more romantic view of NYC from growing up in that area, but this poem is considerably more honest & striking. "tucked into overcoats and suspicion" is absolute brilliance!
Sorry I've been AWOL, btw. Busy with my company. Things will return to "normal" later this week.

Billy said...

Marja, you are always so kind :))

Deb, thnaks, and thanks too for the update. Last time I visited your blog, I saw it was closed.

Suzan, I try to be eclectic lol. Thnx.

Lana, I love the Big Apple too, and my impressions are based on several visits. I know many natives who don't blink an eye at the business. I've been absent too and haven't posted much. Good luck with the business.

Anonymous said...

Great capture, Billy. It's amazing how a tremendously bustling place can seem to devoid of life in an uncanny way.

Casdok said...

Love it :)

lluvia said...

I have to look at the dictionary with your writing Billy...thank you!

Billy said...

Jason, I thought it made for an interesting contrast.

Casdok, thank you kindly -:)

Lluvia, I hope that's a good thing LOL.

SnoopMurph said...

What an amazing photo of NYC, a place I often miss visiting. So I always feel a bite of nostalgia when I see photos.

Your poem is really outstanding. Brilliant consideration of the insular city life.

Geraldine said...

Just stopping in Billy. Hope all is well. Take care, G

Suzan Abrams said...

Hi Billy.

Give me yet one more beautiful poem to read, please. :-)

Julie said...

Great images and hauntingly reminiscent of TS Eliot's Wasteland.

...'a crowd flowed over London Bridge'...

Miladysa said...

Hello Billy :-D

Billy said...

Linda, hey and thanks! It would be a better shot without the railing at the bottom -:)

Geraldine, hi!!! I'm still alive LOL.

Julie, hadn't thought of TS, but I guess it does fit :)

Miladysa, hiya! I have neglected your gorgeous prose and everyone else's because I have to work constantly, leaving no time for me to "play." But I'll be back!

Andrée said...

Your poem reminds me of why I can't even visit New York: the lack of green made me extremely anxious. Living high in a hotel made me even more anxious: Your poem captures this all.

Billy said...

andree, well I have to admit I love to visit the city and the high hotels don't bother me ... but it certainly is busy.

Diane Vogel Ferri said...

I love this - NYC has inspired many poems for me as well. It's an inspiring place period!

Billy said...

Thank you, Diane--and thanks for visiting! Much appreciated. I love to visit the Apple :)