Lorca’s Sleepless City (Brooklyn Bridge Nocturne)

“Sleepless City (Brooklyn Bridge Nocturne)”
by Federico García Lorca, Greg Simon and Steven F. White, trans., 1998
from Broken Land: Poems of Brooklyn

Out in the sky, no one sleeps. No one, no one.
No one sleeps.
Lunar creatures sniff and circle the dwellings.
Live iguanas will come to bite the men who don’t dream,
and the brokenhearted fugitive will meet on street corners
an incredible crocodile resting beneath the tender protest of the

Out in the world, no one sleeps. No one, no one.
No one sleeps.
There is a corpse in the farthest graveyard
complaining for three years
because of an arid landscape in his knee;
and a boy who was buried this morning cried so much
they had to call the dogs to quiet him.

Life is no dream. Watch out! Watch out! Watch out!
We fall down stairs and eat the moist earth,
or we climb to the snow’s edge with the choir of dead dahlias.
But there is no oblivion, no dream:
raw flesh. Kisses tie mouths
in a tangle of new veins
and those who are hurt will hurt without rest
and those who are frightened by death will carry it on their

One day
horses will live in the taverns
and furious ants
will attack the yellow skies that take refuge in the eyes of cattle.
Another day
we’ll witness the resurrection of dead butterflies,
and still walking in a landscape of gray sponges and silent ships,
we’ll see our ring shine and rose spill from our tongues.

Watch out! Watch out! Watch out!
Those still marked by claws and cloudburst,
that boy who cries because he doesn’t know about the invention
of bridges,
or that corpse that has nothing more than its head and one
they all must be led to the wall where iguanas and serpents wait,
where the bear’s teeth wait,
where the mummified hand of a child waits
and the camel’s fur bristles with a violent blue chill.
Out in the sky, no one sleeps. No one, no one.
No one sleeps.
But if someone closes his eyes,
whip him, my children, whip him!
Let there be a panorama of open eyes
and bitter inflamed wounds.

Out in the world, no one sleeps. No one. No one.
I’ve said it before.
No one sleeps.
But at night, if someone has too much moss on his temples,
open the trap doors so he can see in moonlight
the fake goblets, the venom, and the skull of the theaters.

Happy Poem in Your Pocket Day!

Frank O’ Hara [1950]

Oh! kangaroos, sequins, chocolate sodas!
You really are beautiful! Pearls,
harmonicas, jujubes, aspirins! all
the stuff they’ve always talked about

still makes a poem a surprise!
These things are with us every day
even on beachheads and biers. They
do have meaning. They’re strong as rocks.

April 30th is the 2nd annual (7th here in NYC) Poem In Your Pocket Day, part of National Poetry Month. We’ll let the Academy of American Poets explain it:

In this age of mechanical and digital reproduction, it’s easy to carry a poem, share a poem, or start your own PIYP day event. Here are some ideas of how you might get involved:
# Start a “poems for pockets” give-a-way in your school or workplace
# Urge local businesses to offer discounts for those carrying poems
# Post pocket-sized verses in public places
# Handwrite some lines on the back of your business cards
# Start a street team to pass out poems in your community
# Distribute bookmarks with your favorite immortal lines
# Add a poem to your email footer
# Post a poem on your blog or social networking page
# Project a poem on a wall, inside or out
# Text a poem to friends

Here’s a selection of Recent NYU Press series and books of and about poetry:

The Collected Writings of Walt Whitman

Broken Land: Poems of Brooklyn
Irish Poetry: An Interpretive Anthology from Before Swift to Yeats and After
The Beginning of Terror: A Psychological Study of Rainer Maria Rilke’s Life and Work

Ask Your Burning Questions About Brooklyn Poetry

@The New York Times: This week, Michael Tyrell, co-editor of “Broken Land: Poems of Brooklyn” (NYU Press, 2007), will be answering readers’ questions about the history of Brooklyn’s literary landscape, its place in American poetry and the poets who live and work in the borough. Readers who would like to ask Mr. Tyrell a question should do so in the comments box below. The first set of answers will be posted on Wednesday.