A Manual for Urban Living

by Kevin Pilkington

Most things begin here in this city.
When the A train runs uptown
it rattles an orchard in Texas
causing fruit to fall from trees.
And when a glass of beer is knocked
over in a bar on Tenth Avenue the sunset
spills across the sky on the West Coast.
I quickly found out that any street
stretching across town is a kind
of rope that anyone can trip over.
And when I heard a neighbor on
the first floor was found in his
living room hanging from a piece
of Third Avenue wrapped around his neck,
I decided to find out what was hanging
over my head.

On the clearest night I could find,
I took an elevator to the roof
of a high-rise then kept going to look
for a piece of moon, a bit of star
anything that resembled the sky
before I moved here. Later I learned
how to say no beginning with a woman
at a party who asked me to get her
a glass of wine. I told her she shouldn’t
since she was pregnant. She claimed
she wasn’t—the truth was she swallowed
the world. After she walked away,
I just hoped whenever her water broke
it turned out to be the Atlantic.

Published on July 23, 2011