Gary at Bowery Poetry Club
Gary with Judith Schwartz, Simon Pettet and Brenda Coultas
Beth and Gary, in Central Park Zoo, with Gary's poem
Gary with poem
Polar Bears in Central Park Zoo, from site of Gary's poem
So Beth and I went to New York City. We had not been there for over 30 years, but George Wallace invited me to read at the Bowery Poetry Club, so that served as an excuse, and some wonderful friends loaned us their apartment, so off we went.
I did read at the Bowery Poetry Club, where we met up with friends George Wallace, Chris Martin, Paul Pines, Judith Schwartz, Simon Pettet, and where we met Brenda Coultas. After the reading we walked with Simon to the Saint Mark's Bookstore, where I bought Brenda's book A Handmade Museum - what a powerful book. A real treasure.
The next day we went to the Central Park Zoo, to see a poem of mine on a wall near the polar bears. A couple of years ago poet Sandra Alcosser had some kind of artist in residence gig at the zoo, and did permanent installations of a number of poems (Old Walt Whitman thinking that he could go and live with the animals, Sappho, Elizabeth Bishop, Frank O'Hara, Naomi Nye, and here I am as we walk along toward the bears.) I had foolishly asked if my poem could face the bears, and not the onlookers, but if you turn around while reading the poem, the bears are there. The poem now, written maybe 20 years ago, seems prophetic when you consider the fate of these polar bears in the face of global warming.
Here is the poem:
Treat each bear as the last bear.
Each wolf the last, each caribou.
Each track the last track.
Gone spoor, gone scat.
There are no more deertrails,
no more flyways.
Treat each animal as sacred,
each minute our last.
Ghost hooves. Ghost skulls.
Death rattles and
Each bear walking alone
in warm night air.