North of the Dakota by Robert Mickles

gross was an architect
with schwartz he shared a dream
massive cement apartment buildings
the color of impossibly dirty sponges
vertical in their sidewalk greyness
cubicled in door man squareness
a culture of disdain, a failure to reconcile
black berets and turtle necks
with a humorless lack of style
all this just north of the old dakota
 - the gross dream is foaming

jaw-bone wife slash actresses in ray bans sips
bitter starbucks wearing pony brand black thermal tights
sketchers shape-ups spandex opinions and
designer soaps
child-proof children
eat popsicles with jamaican nannies
dad loves to bitch we aren't rich
he builds up his autonomy
nursing fears for the economy
silently resenting the east-siders
so spineless and silver spooned
six digit salaries and still we pray for mercy
just north of the dakota in the shadow of new jersey

not making eye contact with the
rent controlled derilects from amsterdam
cursing metal carts through the streets
with hamburgers and flip phones
don't they know?
take that noise to harlem
we have nine dollar almond butter north of the dakota
and the cops are glad to fill their quota

we have lawyers who read comic books
sage fabrics and holistic vets
we're concerned about gay rights
pour out a little pinot noir in honor of the war vets
razor scooter and organic yams
read the times, recycle
do not relax, your nerves are vindicated
and your life is framed in gray but framed
like a firetruck's siren framed
teach your daughter not to mind
you get results when you're unkind

grow the little boy's hair real long
give it a guitar
buy a beatles t-shirt
and if he's handsome a bandana
'john lennon, man. been dead a while
to him we raise our diet soda
yoko never smiles looking down from the dakota:

"that mcdonalds was a tasty d-lite
we used to eat ice cream late at night
and this chase bank was a cd player
they used to play the rufus wainwright
it was the year 1880 when the dakota took its perch
overlooking rocks and weeds and dirt
whole lot of nothing, can you imagine?"

Photograph by Irina Kuzmena