65. MANHATTAN IN MY HANDS, (e. 11th St., 1968)
I was slowing down greatly and concentrating (so it seemed) on some form of newer gravity which elongated everything and lessened my time-passage and even my concept of what was happening : one day I'd see some precarious old building now wasted partially boarded-up and seemingly ready to fall in on itself and the very next day I'd go there again and it would be teeming with 18th and 19th century workers in strange old original dress and language - horses carts people throwing barrels steel pails nails water lines fires and steam - and a busyness like I'd never seen before and I'd KNOW SIMPLY KNOW by recognition that I was amidst an entire other time and place and my spirit-soul was partaking of a slower denser and more rich experience of a somehow-existence in which time per se did not exist or could be bent and made to exist within another maybe concurrent realm - and this was all flexible and gradual and vivid and certainly as real as the more vague illusion of a present-day I was living with not much more of an understanding of anything and perhaps to others I would seem as lost and wandering or drunk and stupid but to myself I was an intrepid professorial explorer dipping into other realms to experience what I wanted - St. John's Wood the old canal at Canal Street the water spouts everywhere the horse-pools and fountains the swampy collect marshy lowlands running off to each river and the highlands - before they were cut and leveled - at what is now Broadway and Houston Street : stuff no one knows nor would know unless they either were a. THERE or b. had studied it so as to know - and I would visit the great coal-fire mills and the power-plants fired by coal or lumber and the great billowing forms of steam and seepage generated by all the flaming and smoking of huge cauldrons and I'd see the lines of wooden ships all tied up this way and that along Fulton Street and all the wharves - bawdy and filled with blowsy sailors and their extemporaneous shouts and the leering whores along the way the rat-infested dog pens the brewery houses the ale-houses and taverns grogs and bars the illicit whorehouses and hotels the unencumbered stairways the sex-cots and ad hoc hospitals with people dying in pools of blood and the nasty hacking coughs of the tuberculosis wards and the diseased and amputees and broken sailors and wounded servants wild animals stray pigs and boars dogs and curs old listless horses ready for death chicken pens quail houses slaughter house factories pools of animal blood amidst the bleats and squeals and screeches of death and the bludgeon and the knife - the butchers cutting up the newly slaughtered - animal parts hacked and put up for sale immediately and the hags and wenches lined up to buy what they could as soon as they were able.
It all would seem as something I needed to break through to get past the modern-day edge of it all and I could transport myself into another place : something somehow richer where the tumbling of words meant something different. I found that I could steal - the mark of a man back then - anything from anywhere for all was left about and people's understandings yet did not include the sort of social-blemish trespass we know now for this 'NOW' is a time of envy and back then when life was work and a person had to actually DO things to have anything : heat fire water and food ; there wasn't the concept yet of 'wanting' what others had or at least 'wanting' it in the envious way of today when 'possessions' have taken representation and now over-ride their meaning and it's all just part of the froth of vacuity within which we live today : bigmouths and braggarts wanting what they want so as just to say they have it. Envy. Jealously. Covetousness. Greed.