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Cliff Fyman reads from Taxi Night

A few years back Cliff Fyman drove cab at night and began to make poems out of what customers said as he took them to where they wanted to go. Cliff came over to my place last week to record some of his nocturnally generated poetry. We’d been planning on doing this for ages. Here is the enjoyable result.

from Taxi Night


I got a fare from Astoria
to the Sutphin Boulevard train station.
My first time returning there
since high school 1972.
Same crowd
was hanging around
after midnight.
Flashy dressers.
The scene was marked
by a few sharks.
It looked different too.
The El was torn down.
Jamaica Avenue.
My father’s mechanic
Russ Hawkins
lived on South Road
shot his wife in the crotch
went to jail.
Archer Avenue
where I went to yeshiva
was down the street.
A sewing factory occupied
the ground floor, and our
poor school rented the second floor.
How much I loved my friends back then,
our religion, our close way
of life, in school six days a week,
together on Saturday night,
together all summer somewhere
upstate. Always together. The way
we’d do anything to help each other.
And how fast I snapped
and felt I had to get
away from it all.
Some pressure inside me pushing, pushing.
I used to gaze through big windows
teacher was talking
and look at trains
pulling in and out
of Jamaica station
and wonder when
I would ride

Edith Ginsberg, Cliff Fyman, Bob Rosenthal, Allen Ginsberg, John Godfey, Steven Taylor, Peter Orlovsky, Greg Masters, Michael Scholnick, in front of 437 E. 12th St., where all except Edith lived. 1982. Photo by Stephen Shames

at the Poetry Project

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