I retired from the SUNY Buffalo English Department in 2004. Have published a dozen or so collections of poems. Such my addiction to the sport of squash racquets my headstone is to read: "ONE MORE GAME?" See more of my poems HERE.
Editor's Note: In his submission letter to me, Irving wrote about this poem: "What has interested me from time to time isn't "newness" as such but what may be thought of as primal newness, the recovery and restoration of the Original. In "Leaping Clear" space and light are liberated — until Brooklyn as it is now is seen as if on the first Sabbath, come fresh from the hand of God. Also, New York's history and essence as a maritime city are envisioned. (I was born and raised in Coney Island, and worked on the docks. There's very little of the New York littoral I haven't visited.)"
Circumambulate the city of a dreamy Sabbath afternoon. Go from Corlears Hook to Coenties Slip, and from thence, by Whitehall, northward. What do you see? — Posted like silent sentinels all around the town, stand thousands upon thousands of mortal men fixed in ocean reveries. --Herman Melville
Excrescence, excrement, earth
belched in buildings — the city
is the underworld in the world.
They wall space in or drag it down,
lock it underground in holes and subways,
fetid, blackened, choking.
grimed with coal and ash, shovel in hand,
his dust-sputting putz in the other,
like death's demiurge come up to look
around, to smudge the evening air,
the old Polack janitor on Clinton Street,
turd squat in the tenement anus,
stands half-underground in darkness
of the cellar steps and propositions
passing children in a broken tongue.
Quickly, they crowd, they age, they plunge
into holes, and are set to work.
Encountered at estuary
end across beaches and dunes,
or opening out of the breakwater's
armlock, a last magnitude
of bay, or beyond the crazywork
of masts and rigging down a street
suddenly, the sea stuns,
moving into itself, gray over
green over gray, with salt smell
and harbor smells, tar, flotsam,
fish smell, froth, its sentient
immense transparent space.
Walking in Coney Island, bicycling
in Bay Ridge on the crumbling water-level
promenade under the Verrazano,
walking the heights above the Narrows, driving
on Brooklyn Heights, then slowly at night
under the East River Drive past the empty
fish market, past Battery Park, and then
northward driving along the rotting piers,
or looking downriver from Washington Heights
into the harbor's distant opening,
I recovered one summer in New York
the magical leisure of the lost sea-space.
Breathing, I entered, I became
the open doorway to the empty marvel,
the first Atlantis of light.
Windy sun below the Narrows,
Gravesend scud and whitecaps,
coal garbage gravel
scows bucking off Bensonhurst,
westward, and high
into the blue
it gleams aloft, alert
at the zenith
of leaping, speed
all blown to the wind
— what, standing in air,
what does it say
looking out out out?
And the light
off ridge, rock, window, deep,
I leap clear.
Recalled from the labor of creation,
it was glancing as it flew, and saw
looking out to it the shimmering
of the million points of view. To see
Brooklyn so on a sabbath afternoon
from the heights, to be there beyond
the six days, the chronicle of labors,
to stand in the indestructible space,
encompass the world into whose center
you fly, and be the light looking!
The demiurge of an age of bronze
sees his handiwork and says it is good,
laying down his tools forever.
To see Brooklyn so in the spacious ease
of sabbath afternoon above the Narrows
is to say over and over what our speechless eyes
behold, that it is good, it is good, the first
Brooklyn of the senses, ardent and complete
as it was in the setting out of the sabbath.
©2016 Irving Feldman