The Copy Editor

January 16, 2015

It’s not quite correct to say I come from money
we were upper lower middle class maybe
even so we had high expectations
I always thought there’d be a place for me

I’m sitting by the river in the Battery
reading Harper’s in my old Burberry coat
with a quarter in my pocket, the sunshine on my face
thinking about scratching out one last note

like everybody else I went to college
and them liberal arts, they seemed to serve me well
i read a little Kafka and Jack London
now i got this watch i really need to sell

It’s a Cartier Tank Normale 1917
My grandfather brought it back from France
After he fought in the war, that was gonna end all wars
When he died it was my inheritance

And sir I understand your business model
it ain’t worth more than somebody’s gonna pay
but i’m worried they might mug me down on Avenue C
and i don’t have no appointments anyway

40 years ago i was a hot shot
I freelanced all over the Midwest
i was doing fine, but then the New York Times
Offered me a place on their copy desk

Always thought there’d be time to write my novel
I always grateful for the sinecure
And though I liked the prestige and the paycheck
There was part of me that always wanted more

And so when they came to me with their offer
I took their buyout back in ’93
And I rented an apartment in the 8th arrondisement
Je ne sais pas ce qui m’a pris
(I don’t know what came over me)

I spent the Clinton years holed up in Paris
publishing the occasional essay
after 911, to go to syria
I cashed out my 401k

Maybe I never had no real talent
I had a surfeit of self-esteem
I’ve seen the gentrification of the Bowery
and the closing of the American dream


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