A n n e   W a l d m a n :   K e e p i n g   T h e   W o r l d   S a f e   F o r   P o e t r y

N a p a l m   H e a l t h   S p a :   R e p o r t   2 0 1 5 :   S p e c i a l   E d i t i o n







Cover of Young Manhattan, signed, by the authors.




from Young Manhattan by Bill Berkson and Anne Waldman


            I’m walking around  Pigeons all along the cement diameter

of the Central Park Reservoir & motorcycle with Tommy all night he

kissed my breasts  Saturday after Saturday of hotdogs & ice skates

I’m in red & white & the smell of the white shoe polish lingering

around the park  a lot the first time a girl stuck her tongue in my

mouth I thought it was a fish  “Smells like fish!”

                                                                                 Winter in glorious

snow in delicious snow I’ll even eat it I’ll lie down in it I’ll watch it

fall on branches each holding it different holding snow holding on to

these magic moments on an American Flyer sled on the bumpy hill

east of Cleopatra’s Needle

                                                Pets: there was Boots who dies but

before him another beagle  my brother hallucinated for two days

after distemper the world through the eyes of an animal  what are

you doing here?  I’m walking the dog slush on the curb  let him run

run with him  he can shake hands then Winslow & the cat who died

of poisoning when Boots did  sick neighbors sneaking arsenic in

paper bags (“Rear Window”?) into the yard touch of evil & death

brown & black

                           My father had lived in Rome & spoke happy Italian

with the waiters. “The daffodils that entertain at Angelo’s &

Maxi’s…” Pen & Pencil  21  The Palm  The Red Devil  The Colony

Dempsey’s  We had the mafia on one side & pizza on the other we

had a bakery across the way & all my friends had Italian names:

Esposito, Benetti, Nunziatto, DiBella, across the street, down the

block, right here, the shape of Manhattan I think we’re in Italy


movies I liked American in Paris dance & romance & song I liked to

be in a modern place with paintings & a smooth dancing man  We

went to the Red Devil between Sunday movies — two, sometimes

three of them. In my first movie, To the Ends of the Earth, Dick

Powell of the US Treasury Department tracks the world-wide opium

trade, Yma Sumac chanting high over the (Turkish?) poppy fields…

My parents checked the newspaper to see where “thrillers” were

playing, but mostly I liked swordplay (The Spanish Main) &

westerns (She Wore a Yellow Ribbon) or anything with Errol Flynn

anytime at The Strand The Rialto Roxy Trans Lux The Capitol

Loews State Paramount Criterion Loews 72nd (stars on the ceiling)

RKO 86th Radio City Music Hall and the first TV shows like Phil

Silvers (before Milton Berle) (and funnier) on the Texaco Hour  Sid

Caesar & Imogene Coca I went in a kilt is it possible to remember

the pin fastening?  Pony tail I learned to do it myself and I learned to

get around & I learned there was a ferry hanging out in the Fort

Tryon Park  I study geography I study my body I think I’m

expanding I think I’m stretching feet grow I learned to get a fast

headlock and hold it so nobody could get a punch in  I learned the

Magna Carta  “hic hæc hoc/hujus hujus hujusKon Tiki “When I

consider how my light is spent” handball stickball stoopball

waterbomb My heroes were Doak Walker George Mikan Allie

Reynolds Johnny Mize Stan “The Man” Musial  I played left field  I

talked only to God  I thought about Jesus Christ  I thought about the

Devil  and I learned what nice company girls could be. Who do you

think you were, Joan of Arc?  I heard The Five Keys sing “Lin Ting

Tong” and Jo Stafford “You Belong to Me”

                                                                           I like it here won’t go

too far won’t have to work too hard “You’re too charming to work—

you should be a gigolo” says Clara Petacci Mussolini’s mistress to

 my dada, all the faces and the names of faces: Bugs, Cheever and

Andrea, Jinx and Tex, Louella, Cobby, Lucky Luciano, Aunt Fanny,

Aunt Grace, Aunt Louise, Aunt Ruth with her displays of fairies on

the lawn at Christmas all gossamer & painted & very elegant

Maxfield Parrish like I was thinking Victorian too I was reading

poetry plenty not me I didn’t know any better  I liked Classic Comic

of The Gold Bug and staring




[Anne and I wrote Young Manhattan in a hot flurry in 1974; then Anne and Brad O’Sullivan had

the bright idea of publishing it 25 years later as a Smokeproof Press/Erudite Fangs chapbook

(1999) with a cover by George Schneeman. ––B.B.]