Leaning Over the Edge: Poetry and Death


So…I’m on my way to adjudicate a High School “Poetry Out Loud” event on Long Island last night. High expectations, looking for something new to do, and I’m driving along the Cross Island Parkway and…

Off to the left, on the side heading towards Queens (I have no clue E, W, N, or S), and just off the actual parkway…a guy climbs over the side fence/guard rail…and hangs over, looking and leaning down. Down, between that ramp and the CIP. I was hustling to make the event in time (damn you, LIE backed up traffic!) and just went into a very surreal slow down of real time while my car kept speeding along.

Did he jump? I don’t know. I noticed him and then I was gone, with however many zillion cars behind me. I called 911, did my best to explain when and where and whatever I could. He was an instant of static image frozen in my mind: white male, ski cap covered head, blue, with a blue parka, dark pants & shoes. Climbing over then hanging over the edge, looking down, hands gripping the beams behind him When he got into that position, the heels of his feet and his clasped fingers were the only thing holding him up, and he leannnnnnnnnnned way over. An instant of seeing visually, stamped hard in a vision of memory. Did he jump? I was gone.

So…”Poetry Out Loud.” Surreal to see all the bubbling teen life and energy and hopes and dreams…and I was there to kind of/sort of dash some of them by being truthful in regards to their presentations. Some of them soared amazingly high. Actually, many did, with a little tweak here and there, a little maturing nudge along the way, and they’d GET THERE.

One young lady actually, due to her recitation, made me actually like a poem about a Mackerel. A mackerel. I hate fish, as any who knows me well can attest, and hating a poem about fish just goes hand in hand.  She actually found the right way to cause me to turn myself around with all of the tools she had at hand.

It wasn’t the only instance of the night that wowed me. Too many to go in here. I wish them all good things as they continue along whatever path(s) they take.

Next Friday, same thing, different place (Bronxville). Just please: no potential jumpers.

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2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. millie
    Feb 05, 2011 @ 21:44:05

    such synchronicity gives new meaning to the word ‘slam’, doesn’t it?

    Reply

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