“And They’re Running” by Peter Marcus

Peter Marcus


running in their Reeboks their Asics their Saucony’s running
with their iPods MP3s and Blackberries their cell phone plan
with unlimited minutes and playlists longer than the 10,000 things
inscribed in the Tao Te Ching
they’re running in spandex breathable cotton tank tops golf hats
bare-backed bare-chested some with tattoos the width of murals
some with dogs—dogs ahead behind beside the pure bred
pedigreed Border Collie Bichon Frise Labradoodle Whippet
Standard Poodle groomed like labyrinthine shrubbery
they’re running for their lives to look better in the boardroom bedroom
on the dance floor in the mirror gasping sweating grunting
as if one could make exhausted love with oneself
they’re running with their newborns their infants toddlers half-
legal adoptees from China Ethiopia Belarus Honduras
their in vitro twins saddled in designer strollers
they’re running one assumes away from death away along the river
while others chose to march and pray to sit and sing refuse
to move in Zuccotti Park in the freedom to be still and gather
they’re running through daylight savings time time saving saving
time a belief in amassing the disappearing hours
collectible as postage stamps Nikes snow globes sea glass
while others run towards God pedometers wrapping biceps like tefillin
No one seems to notice the anomalous walker immobile because
he’s exhausted afraid of failing falling out of breath breathless
while the sun sprays shattered gold across the Hudson
For anyone bothering to look at all closely would’ve known
he’d fallen that something fractured tore or broke within him
but they’re running running running running and the only others pausing
seek to lessen the lactic acid build-up to stretch and stretch out
pressing palms against a wall or railing as if suddenly apprehended
for a nameless crime patted down and frisked by un-seeable detectives.

from Rattle #48, Summer 2015
Tribute to New Yorkers


Peter Marcus: “Living is New York and my feelings about my life here are fraught with contradiction. This city that continues to energize and exhaust, exhilarate and fatigue, as it hums, dances, burns and crashes on its streets and behind myriad closed doors. New York, like the universe itself, seems ever expanding in its breadth, an endlessly unfolding map that I purposefully or aimlessly, addictively wander. Likewise, I often experience New York as a fathomless well in whose depths I’ve been fortunate to draw from and been sustained by, especially in periods of loneliness, depression or loss. Over the years, I’ve found innumerable niches and nooks inside the maelstrom of city life, spaces where I can commiserate within, places of refuge and solace: in Central Park, on the Highline, amidst empty church pews, in oft-empty side rooms of grand museums, on various wooden stools inside day-dark bars. There is too much in this city that I rail and rage against, and too much that I equally adore and celebrate. New York is excessive in both the wonderful and repugnant, as it compels and repels me, often within a single day, sometimes within single hour. The city figures as both central character and backdrop in many of the poems I’ve written over the twenty years that I’ve lived here. And much like the speed and drive of the poem in this issue, on many a day, the city leaves me, for the worse or the better—breathless.”

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