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Bill Kushner reads Neighbor

Bill Kushner and I used to meet and walk. On this August day, I met Bill at the F train at East Broadway, and we walked to Chrystie Street for a lunch special at the Bite of Hong Kong. Bill was pretty much a vegetarian so he usually had something with vegetables and tofu. And oh, did he enjoy it. I miss those days, truly. Here, Bill reads his poem Neighbor that he had written that morning. For a while, a lot of Bill’s work was in the sonnet form, but as he got older his poems got longer and longer.

My neighbor oh my neighbor he
he’s a funny guy. Not funny ha-ha
but still he he’s a funny guy. “Once
Once I wanted to be a priest,” he
softly whispered to me on the stairway,
and then when we got outside he quickly
turned and he went right and so I stopped
and so I began to follow him in the falling
daylight along the crowded avenues, and
then I saw him go into the Blue Store, the
store that has all the clocks from all over
the world in its windows, so that you always
know what time it is if you happen to find
yourself in London or Paris or perhaps Rome.
So there I was and so I went quickly into it
and it was empty, The Blue Store was empty,
as I began to wander down one aisle and up
another aisle, staring at all the boxes of all
the men, most of them naked, and their wet
eyes of endless longing. But where had he
gone, my whispering neighbor, had he gone
up to heaven, or he gone straight down the
stairway to hell? I tell you that I never ever
saw him again, and when I went outside, it
was long past midnight on all the tick tock
clocks of all of the world, and the dark empty
streets, and I really should have been home,
and so I hurried home.

Wake Me When It’s Overis published by Talisman House Publishers. You can check them out here:


Wake Me When It’s Over can easily be purchased here at Small Press Distributions:


photo: Ted Roeder

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