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POEMS

- by Ravi Shankar

NEW YORK CITY, OIL ON CANVAS, 1942

Grids map Manhattan: thin spires of skyscrapers

patterning the skyline, distended accordions

connecting certain extra-long buses, interlaced

steel trash cans, architraves around doors, flags

on poles, avenues four blocks long perpendicular

to numbered streets headed crosstown, rooftops

like a

column

of graph

paper,

windows

lit up,

sidewalks seamed, manhole covers crisscrossed,

confessionals, peep show booths, teller windows, 

rows of brownstones, crosswalks walked across,

Central Park’s green quadrangle, hotdog cart’s

checkered grill an engraver’s mold, TV antenna,

subway

rails,

bridges

across

the East

River

from ferry-deck, metal grates pulled down over

storefronts, all symmetry excluded, police car’s

flashing lights, chain-link fences, strips of benches

like weave of fabric, concatenation of parked cars,

plinth

of the

globe

                                      in front

                                      of the

                                      Trump

                                      Towers,

billboards jutting from Times Square, stock ticker

ticking in the window of an equities firm, checks

on the gingham skirt the secretary wears, elevators

rising, trees potted equidistant, fingers on guitar

strings,

news-

papers

tied up in stacks, hemlines that create the living 
rhythm, crosses atop cathedrals, computer screens

in cubicles, steel girders hooked by cranes, spines

on a book vendor’s table, bacon strips on hot plates,

latticed sewer grates, networks of lines interlocked.
Biography
Ravi Shankar is poet-in-residence at Central Connecticut State University and the founding editor of the online journal of the arts, Drunken Boat. His first book Instrumentality, was published by Word Press in May 2004. Shankar's poetry has been published in such places as The Massachusetts Review, The Cortland Review, and The New Hampshire Review. His critical work has appeared in The Iowa Review, among other publications. He co-edited an anthology of contemporary Arab and Asian poetry, along with poets Tina Chang and Nathalie Handal, which was published by Norton in Spring 2008.