How Do I Get To The Carnegie

If I knew
where nowhere is,
I’d wander
to hear what’s there
listen anywhere music charms
be lost
be found out

She lives to arrive
at places that matter
to see a scene
be a decoration
place a mark
on a souvenir

For hours we wandered lost
seeking Carnegie Hall

As her anger trumpeted
I heard an echo of ah’s
voices savoring delights
taxis arriving with honks like geese
that made me chase a mirage
see a sign: Carnegie

I dragged us in to hear
the singers calling for chicken livers

When I saw no oboes
I knew we
had arrived
at the Carnegie Deli

I ordered hot pastrami. She
told me I was in a pickle, while
the bells of doom
pealed in my head, and
I looked for a native New Yorker
to calm her rage
tell her the address for
Carnegie Hall

While I wandered away
through chicken liver
trying to peel the onion
of my tears, to
find an appropriate tongue,
she opened her purse
reached into her anger
pulled out a jar of ultra-hot
jalapeño peppers
stuffed it in my sandwich

She waited to sting me, but
I was lost in gourmet ecstasy
awry in rye
like a cole slaw
waiting for slaughter

She waited to flatten my dignity
as flat as a potato pancake

By the time I returned
her hunger overwhelmed her
and she bit into my sandwich
tears streaming down her cheeks

I inquired
why she cried

Her poor deceased Mother
would have loved New York

She pushed the sandwich in my face. I ate.

She asked about my tears.

I cried too that
her Mother in heaven
left her daughter behind
with the character of
a hot pepper

The pain focussed my attention
on a ragged stranger. In payment
I offered him my sandwich, a plea:
please tell my dear wife
how to get to Carnegie Hall

Breathing like a dragon
he gasped, the address
has two 7’s and a 5

Swallowing a gallon of water
he pointed to a street musician
on the corner

I threw a sandwich
in the musician’s case
asked how I get to
Carnegie Hall

With a Knish and ambition, he said– she
ran off with him
I stayed to order a corned beef
and kept my tongue on
the best day of my life

Today she plays the violin.
I stand outside with a sax.

I’m not chopped liver though
’cause the chicks dig me
—- Douglas Gilbert
(Henry Le Châtelier)

Poetry Books By Douglas Gilbert