Joseph Aprile

I walk the streets of the city like a
traveler from the distant stars
noting every nuance of the human thirst for
survival, for pleasure, for reverence,
for glory and for meaning.
Humans seem to be beleaguered by the
complexity of the inner life,
the images of self and others and the
summation of the infinitely diverse interpretations of the
singular events and circumstances of a lifetime.
There are many nomads in the city,
many homeless,
many hanging precariously to life.
There are many young vital males with
nothing to do but endure the
relentless passing of time
while the vitality roars in their bodies.
These men decay from within from the
ravages of the restless engine of inertia,
the parks, the christian missions and
ultimately the prisons await them.
There are many who walk the city
inescapably mad tormented by the fire
burning constantly in their brains.
There are many who walk the streets with a
running dialogue being carried on by the
myriad personalities trapped within a
singular consciousness
particularly prone to perilous ends,
completely devoid of the least remnant of
survival programming, so engrossed are they
with their own divinations.
Uptown women at the very pinnacle of fashion,
hailing cabs in a driving rain,
junkies nodding out over a cup of coffee at bickford's,
lunch time employees causing
ten thousand hot dogs to disappear from a
nedick's restaurant in less than an hour,
a drunk pissing on a statue opposite macy's.
Five young black boys
demolishing a burnt out tenement with
consummate speed and skill,
young gay men cruising with an
almost mocking grace on a
hot summer afternoon in central park,
a family speaking french on a bus
nearing lincoln center,
old italian men in white playing bocce.
A gaggle of widowed women
lined up on park benches
like chickens roosting on an old fallen log
exchanging stories regarding their dead husbands
and inconsiderate children,
or comparing the severity of their operations,
queues of young professionals outside the
broadway theaters on a saturday night.
The ghost like quality of Wall Street on a
sunday afternoon with the wind blowing the
refuge through silent thoroughfares,
the sharply delineated gray of winter with
low clouds enshrouding the great skyscrapers,
thousands upon thousands of workers
emptying out of their cubicles onto fifth avenue.
These are some of the images that
envelop my senses and
catapult me into the
ever changing fabric of the human kind
infinitely diverse yet
somehow monolithic,
ever moving yet changeless,
an immense population that
shares a commonality of their genes,
the architecture of their brains
and the form of their bodies.
Humans are the chimera of a protracted past,
an instantaneous present and
an uncertain future.
The city stands as a
crystalline mirror to that humanity
revealing all its convoluted facets,
its monumental incoherence and
shimmering vitality.
My own growing up with all its
particular circumstances is but an
indelicate mirror of the state and situation of humanity.
I am, in fact, a living time machine
carrying with me through the fourth dimension
the history and possibilities of the race.