I'm in the reading room at the New
York Public Library. I walked between
the lions and the lions are white.
The oak tables are about eighteen feet
long. Brass circles for electric outlets.
On inner floor, flatscreen monitors
with CATNYP as the screensaver. Most people
here are reading or writing with pens, about
a seventh have laptops. Each seat is numbered,
I'm at 657, and all the numbers are odd at
this table and run clockwise. I've turned
all the open encyclopedias to the page with
the word Newfoundland. There's an exhibit
of illuminated manuscripts downstairs, the
first open book has a map of the world,
a portuguese map from 1552. And the words,
Terra D Baccalao.
I meet my publisher. She gives me directions to
the office. She says we're at Broadway and Fifth
Avenue, a little sidestreet that joins them.
I'm writing this down and then she says, We're
in the Flatiron Building. Okay, I said. I know
where youre to. So I'm in the Flatiron Building,
and the windows at the peak are covered in
clear plastic and the ceilings are dropped. You
can protect the outside of a building, but not
I read with Joel Hynes. Is it strange to see Joel
in New York? I'm in the bookstore with the owner
and then hear, Hey. It's Joel, finishing a smoke.
He offers one and I have one with him. He looks
good, that beleaguered cool thing he has going on.
And we read and Joel is very good and professional
and the expatriot Newfoundlanders take
care of us, and our publishers take care of
the bill. Thank you publishers, thank you.
It's late in the morning when I say goodbye
to Joel, and the garbage trucks
hurl down 5th Avenue. A man drops off the back of
the truck and whips out the white bag of garbage
sponsored by the Doe Fund. And runs across a
crosswalk and jumps back aboard the rear lip
of the truck. The garbage bin is empty. I guess
someone else puts in a new bin liner later in
The silver tower on the Empire State Building is
like a picture tube in a TV, or the filament in a
lightbulb. The lightbulb broken off. Some silver
in the Chrysler Building too. Like the silver on
the cathedral spires in Ottawa, the one in Lower
In Madison Square, park staff clean up sidewalks,
green coats with a white maple leaf on the back.
One is wearing homemade cardboard shoes over
his personal shoes.
And then I'm home in my bed and there's tennis
from Melbourne while I brush my teeth.