Variations on the “Under Bryant Park” Installation : Manhattan, New York

i. the commuter

Nature must not win the game, but she cannot lose.
Footsteps vamp to the platform floor “she cannot lose.”

I conceptualize continuity, viscosity and age,
I think the train’s rumble, and thinking will not lose.

Inside the crowd the face that faces back.
Inside the crowd I reach out to the face I lose.

Nature, root, basalt, dripping water, words as ties—
Old Manahatta strains beneath Manhattan, but must not lose.

I wipe my brow with a deli napkin—forever the walls
like a mosaic burial chamber. I’m beginning to lose

the artifice : how do we say nature?
How do children when the trains rock never lose

their footing? Unlike me. The girls are pickpockets.
The crowd is whispering my nature is loose : I face myself : I lose.

ii. the hallway

Hollow, then caulk a mosaic
of roots above and basalt below and through it
nominate words to speak of what
dissipates—a stone

of roots. And basalt. Below and through it
the words dripping water hollows out—
dissipates—a stone.
Cosmic drool from the cleft hobo chin,

the words dripping, water, hollows, out,
heel to hallway’s echo, echo in a head,
cosmic. Drool from the cleft, Hoboken,
compose the commuter’s passing,

heel to hallway’s echo echoing ahead
a train of words reverberated so,
composite. Commuters passing :
generations gone into the century’s gait,

a train of word’s re-verb. Berated so,
we hate the hallway’s Jack & Jill.
Generate slogans into the sentry-gate,
the tunnel who’s teeth tells the cautionary tale.

iii. the busker

Playing a song, anything that rhymes :
stand against the wall or the trick won’t work.
Out fall nickels and dimes.

Rest in the lull, play for the fast times,
its not about the music. They pay me for
playing a song, anything that rhymes.

Sometimes curt and crude, sometimes kind,
a leviathan squirms its jaw open :
out fall nickels and dimes.

In the echo of foot-claps the melody refines
the silent bustle with something human.
Playing a song : anything that rhymes.

We are family—the ties that bind
our happiness, our mean days together,
Out fall nickels and dimes.

I accept the workday’s livelier signs,
the creature smiles, says “happy Friday,” snaps shut.
Playing a song, anything that rhymes,
out fall nickels and dimes.


J. Kirk Maynard resides in his hometown of Portland, Oregon with his wife Jessica and their dog Lucy. He received his MFA at the University of Alabama. His poems and reviews have been published or are forthcoming in: Pudding Magazine, Crack the Spine, White Whale Review, Arch, and Black Warrior Review, among others. He manages a Wallace Books in Portland’s Westmoreland neighborhood, and edits the online blog: