avenue east

What is this river but the one
Which drags the things we love,
Processions of debris like floating lamps,
Towards the radiance in which they go out?
—  Galway Kinnell, from section 4 of “The River That Is East,” The Avenue Bearing the Initial of Christ into the New World: Poems 1946-64 (Houghton Mifflin, 1974)

Looking up Park Avenue, Manhattan.

@nytransitmuseum

Chicago, Illinois. June 1962.  East Chicago Avenue intersecting Rush, facing southwest. Maurice Seymour’s old studio on the left. Seymour worked in Chicago from the 1930s until the 1970s photographing performers who worked in the nightclubs and theatres. 

Love, a Footnote
  1. The KGB Bar off 2nd Avenue in New York’s East Village was a gathering place for the Ukrainian Communist Party, which explains the curious décor but not the frequent readings.
  2. Red is evoked by the longest wavelengths of light discernible to the human eye. Red is long; long and slow. The curtains in the KGB Bar are not so much red as a history of red.
  3. “Podium,” from the Latin, often confused with “lectern.” One stands on a podium. One leans one’s elbows or sets one’s beer, beaded with condensation, on the lectern.
  4. In ventriloquism, the speaker’s voice seems to come from elsewhere. This doesn’t explain why he called his poem “The Ventriloquist.” Maybe something about the poet and the reader, but I don’t like trickery, anyway.
  5. We associate red with heat, energy, and blood, and with emotions associated with heat, energy, and blood—such as anger or love. Ezra Pound makes his ideogram of “red” with four signifiers: rose, cherry, iron rust, flamingo. I would use: bark, blood, cardinal, sex. Sex because, like red, it occurs in long, slow waves.
  6. You sat next to me, though I didn’t know you at the time. It was red, dark and red, and there was so much smoke you could see the air moving around people as they moved.
  7. I love words that can inhabit more than one part of speech, as in a match or to match. The phosphorous smell of a just-lit match. Enough light for two faces to share.
  8. Wallace Stegner’s comment about art as the communication of insight appears in various incarnations in his work, but my favorite is in Angle of Repose. You acted surprised that I had such a thought. I took it as a compliment at the time.
  9. In Plato’s Symposium, Diotima tells Socrates how to experience the ideal form of beauty through love. From our desire to possess one body, we sense eternity.
  10. An “angle of repose” is the slope at which granular materials come to rest at, say, the base of a sheer rock face. In Utah, owing to iron rust, the rocks are often red. The process is long, and slow.
  11. As with “match,” one can be patient, or one can be a patient. I have been both, but never at the same time.
  12. Veselka is a Ukrainian diner in the East Village, near St. Mark’s Church. Very good pierogi. Many of the customers have chic glasses, cases for musical instruments, and dirty hair. I like to sit at the counter.
  13. Sake is produced by multiple fermentations of rice. Sometimes it tastes like heavy moonlight, sometimes it tastes like a neon sign that’s just been turned off. In Japan, sake is drunk from small cups called choku. In certain friends’ Lower East Side apartments in December, it is heated in a microwave and drunk from chipped coffee mugs that say things like “Happy Secretary’s Day” and “#1 Dad,” even though the person who lives there is neither a secretary nor a dad.
  14. Feeling is a way of knowing what you’re going to think about something. Example: I felt the thought, I could want you. Emotion as premonition. It is a mystery. It is the ideal form of beauty.

Rebecca Lindenberg