Poetry: Saturn on Seventh | clivejames.com
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Saturn on Seventh

I’ve been giving the miraculous a whirl
but what have I got? A stomach crammed

with cheap chimichanga, a shoulder-check
from Christian Slater and, though I don’t know it yet,

a cloned credit card number. The Empire State
is a popsicle dipped in its Christmas reds

and greens. “Let’s eat and drink ourselves
into hospital.” The waitress only just

brought you round with ice-water fingers
on the cubicle floor between courses

and flaming, straw-melting cucarachas.
We came to celebrate this town

but dragging ourselves up Seventh Ave.
back to the peeling Pennsylvania room,

we sway wasted and weary past
stacks of Japanese Playboys, Brazilian

Vogues, battlements of L. Ron Hubbard
remainders, a trestle table over-stacked

with cheaply-stitched-together baseball caps;
all the naff globalised tat we’ve come

to expect from the greatest city on earth.
And then this charcoal-on-cardboard sign,

See Saturn for a dollar, and the giggling line
of clubbers where a homeless astronomer

has angled a prized and battered telescope
at a quarter of the sky to the right

of the Chrysler Building which tonight
looks like it might have been piloted here

by Buster Crabbe. I toss a dollar in his cap
expecting nothing but empty night,

rest my brow against the rubber cup,
sealing out the street-level light

and there, in a black starless spotlight:
Saturn, as fat as a two pound coin,

fluxing with my pulse conducted through
the sensitive instrument, tilts its tipsy

rings towards Manhattan. I don’t want to leave
its impeccable silence but you’ve paid

your money too and I step aside.
A random reveller asks me, “Did you see it?

Is it real?” and “Was it in colour?”
You take your fill and turn away, smiling.

We continue up the hill in silence,
our minds in parallel universes.