The Great White Way looking north,
February 21, 1964.
The smoke hangs over the street
drifting north from Times Square
where the Camel sign reigns
and the man exhales and exhales
the unfiltered cigarette. My father
burned through three packs a day.
Butts would float on top of urine
in the toilet, evidence that he could piss
and smoke simultaneously. I remember
the unending stream. Here the billboard looms
over Hector’s, a cafeteria, one of many
scattered across Manhattan.
Feb 21 1964, a year my father was alive.
It must have been late when this photo was shot
given the lack of traffic. Two dim headlights
in the foreground. Shadows head downtown.
A record store lights up the lower
right corner, but it’s that rhythmic
smoke, the steady beat of the lungs,
that uninterrupted puff of a man in a cap,
a postman, a policeman, Everyman who sends
a plume into the air like a wish, a halo
reimagined over and over. It just killed
everyone who saw it, even my father.
“Interrupted by the Sea,” Paul’s second collection of poetry was published this year. (What Books Press) His first collection, “Chemical Tendencies,”(Tebot Bach) was a finalist in the MSR poetry contest. He also received an honorable mention in the Allen Ginsberg Contest. Twice nominated for a Pushcart Prize, Paul produces and hosts “Why Poetry” on Pacifica radio in L.A. and Santa Barbara. Guests have included Poet Laureates, National Book Award Winners and many known and lesser-known poets. Paul’s poems have appeared in The Moth, N.Y. Quarterly, Patterson Review, Askew, Poemeleon, Alimentum, and many other journals and anthologies. He has taught creative writing in poetry, short stories and playwriting at Loyola Marymount University and facilitates the poetry workshop at Beyond Baroque, the oldest literary institute in Los Angeles. Paul works as an actor and has performed on and off-Broadway and in numerous films and TV shows. paullieber.com
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