Most Manhattan dwellers can’t point
which way’s north. Some seem to think
through the Lincoln into New Jersey’s
as close to north as can be imagined.
Cut them a break—Polaris won’t play
Broadway skies after such bad reviews.
Except that aiming the right direction
north’s not much different than holding
a gun straight at someone you used to
know to love—north’s what everything
else uses to line up to.⠀⠀So even inside
one can find true north by the positions
adopted by all other things in the room.
North is whom everyone else’ll listen to.
Except for in your Southern Hemisphere
for which there’re apps that’ll convert
this poem’s prejudices to proper form.
But Manhattan subways run uptown
not all the way as far north as wanted.
Only up to a false north.⠀⠀Or east out
to Brooklyn, home of the new diaspora
out in all directions. So Manhattan can
be forgiven for getting turned around.
North’s where everyone else comes from.
Or returns to. The one time I made it up
over the border, days were near as dark
as their nights.⠀⠀I didn’t want to leave
nor let it leave. Dark and quiet and still.
Like thought. Like sleep. Like home.
North’s why everything else turns up.
Except for in Manhattan, the one place
on earth where true north doesn’t matter.