Lewis MacAdams


Grand Central Station

Bright Sky Water

Rivers aren’t dependent
on water for their flow.
It’s what’s below.
“It is only a reflecting mind that sees reflections”
                                                                       Thoreau, his Journals
Water takes us beyond ourselves.
Water travels the wide world as vapor
while waiting for the opportunity to rain.

Today the sky is swept of sorrows -
gorging on blackberries is our orders,
and blogging about our offspring

to a crowd of Legbas that materialize
at dirt crossroads. Most of my writings,
I can count on maybe six or seven readers;
but they’re leaders.

the sunset lingers as the coast
of New Jersey is bathed
in a full moon.

A Swainson’s Hawk
looks down from tree-top reverie
to take in the wild river below her.

Out on the wingtip, the
landing lights remind me
again and again
to be a better father.

I’m in a class
that never ends
as the plane descends.

As stiff as your back is,
you still gotta bend over
to kiss the giant and
whisper in his ear “to find
what you’re looking for,
let it come to you.”



You don’t have to always like it; but
you do have to stand on ceremony
when everybody in the family
gets together. You say you don’t,
and you won’t; but you know
you will.

That’s part of what
makes you noble - being
part of something larger than yourself,
like a city and its suburbs,
a neighborhood park, a
community garden,
a lawn.


Some Guys Step Forth

Some guys step forth to direct traffic,
and we look at them as heroes,
back-to-back in the middle of the intersection
of Park Avenue and 57th St.,
waving their arms to make sense
out of all this chaotic honking.

The only time I ever panic’d was in Dag Hammarskjold Plaza
in a dark hall eight floors up, and then only for about a minute
‘til Diogenes appeared to light my way with a candle.

Celebrating the Bard’s 500th birthday
with the "Border Balladeer," Sir Walter Scott,
and Robert Burns, who knew fame
but fortune knew not, I wend my ghostly
way down the elm allee in Central Park.
“I believe this is the most beautiful place
in the entire park,” a serious young man
with a neatly trimmed beard lectures an impressed young
Asian-American woman in a sun dress, with shoulders
pale as the light of fireflies
gathering at the Bethesda fountain.

She’s going to have to be a Saint
to stick to this guy, who will
dedicate his life to the language of poetry
while her own life becomes a hell

of hand-me-downs and overdue library books,
with nothing to show for it
but pallid imitations of Berrigan and Koch.


Connecticut : A Week Before Christmas , 2003

Lovers kissing on a station platform in an American Doisneau,

a little girl playing hand jive with her pops in a commuter car – she covers her left eye
with her left hand and he does the same,

bloodthirsty mobs screaming for the head of a dictator, any dictator-

because now my country owns this planet, and my company

owns this country and the cable bill

is past due.

                         A guitar player

curls around his battered Gretsch,

bending the blue strings that keep him together;

i.e, my notes they do cohere.

I’ve got one hand on my cell phone

and the other on my CD player, so I’m

sending out luck to everyone

who ever put pen to paper or

fingertip to keyboard and

teased out a song-

happy as a pagan Earth Day.


               Some rattle their jewelry.

               Some chant “Support Our Troops,” and wave

               yellow flags with pictures of Darth Vader on them.

               You can bow your head &

               bite your tongue while they

               pledge their allegiance,

               your arms at your side;

               but you’re just as much a part of it

               as the lowliest Fox News anchor, hippie.

               Go read your Walt Whitman.


A dope deal goes down

             in the shadow

             of the sycamores.

                The rain

                       washes across the parking lot

sweeping everything from condoms to gasoline

                into the storm drain.

               With his dollar cigars

       and his dark glasses, his

         sweaty towel

            and his shining conk

Lightnin’ Hopkins

            was the Duke of the

       Jacksboro Highway.

    I once saw Jimmy Reed

       talking to himself in the mirror

            at Lu Anne’s

                   Lonnie Johnson

       told me he could sing a hole

            through a goat’s head

    if it’d stand still long enough.

The river bottoms have always beckoned me

                ever since I was wild.


                    At Wacko
                                     for the one and only
                                                         Billy Shire

                          “used country,
                          used world.”

We are the beautiful children of
the urban warrior caste,
the media workers with the boxer shorts dyed lime green
and the tattoos snaking around our necks.
We mongrelize you
and laugh off your “Orange Alert” because it’s so last year;
and for a minute we are living
in a new country where the War Powers
are a sign of weakness
and the administrators
can’t maneuver us with their old-time religions
of self-righteousness,
because it’s Christmas Eve.


                    Hortense Sanger

She was like my mom
                                      in a larger world.

            She had the books I needed

stacked up on a ping-pong table

            in a sunny, glassed-in


    on Averill Way.

She gave me my first copy

                  of On The Road

(a Viking paperback, 1st edition.

I’ve still got it, held together by rubber bands).

      Of them all, it was only she

who understood

      what I wanted to be.

The Biographer

To charge the air with solitude or
a color, Whistler chose his
beauties from those in power, Lady Meaux,
or the Comte de. Montesquieu-Fezensac.
The women he draped in lime and peach,
the men in inky-black evening wear
the color of the spaces between the stars.

I draw the portraits of the ones
I serve. Like a scribe
with a battered Olivetti, sitting
outside a bus station in downtown Algiers,
I place them in their time, emboss them,
array them with the things
that they’ve accrued. And
when I’m done, I expose them
to a little Piero Della Francesca
because I want them to look beautiful.
I look at my subjects with an old man’s eye for
the voluptuous detail. Every hair of the beard is painted,
every fold of the luminescent skin.


Forever Young

Maybe if I had some of Bob Dylan’s wisdom
I’d know what to say when
you flunk an algebra test, or
rip my head off on the telephone -
mad at yourself.

                  “What looks large in the distance
                  up close ain’t never that big”

But I don’t;
                          so later that same evening,

when there’s nobody’s listening but
the universe, I send out a
little chanson:
                          a dude in a coach
on the Metro North balances his
little boy on his lap

as he points out the lights of Manhattan
the towers of the George Washington Bridge,
and the icy Harlem River

            Like me,
                                   he’s a Didactosaurus –

trying to tell his kid everything
he can while there’s still time,

the train hurtling along
towards Grand Central Station.