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Such are the compensations of poverty
to see—

like an electric fungus
sprung from its own effulgence
of intercircled jewelry
reflected on the pavement

like a reliquary sedan-chair,
out of a legend, dumped there,
before a ten-cent cinema,
a sugar-coated box office
enjail a Goddess
aglitter, in her runt of a tower
with a ritual claustrophobia

Such are the compensations of poverty
to see—

transient in the dust
the brilliancy
of a trolley
loaded with luminous busts

lovely in anonymity
they vanish
with the mirage
of their passage

Mina Loy, from “On Third Avenue

What to say about this? Caz became a Mina Loy admirer, and began to read what related poetry he could: Pound, Hart Crane, William Carlos Williams, H.D., Laura Riding and, later, Louis Zukofsky and Charles Reznikoff. To this day, Caz says Reznikoff is the greatest Brooklyn-native poet, fuck you Walt Whitman*; Gilbert Sorrentino’s best poems are terrific but his genius was as a novelist. Anyway, Mina Loy’s rough, darting, unpredictable style was unique— and, for many years, very hard to find. Caz didn’t see “Third Avenue— Part Two” (as this fragment was then titled) until 1958, the year Jonathan Williams published the first Mina Loy book, the now-rare Lunar Baedeker & Time Tables: Selected Poems, since Robert McAlmon put one out thirty plus years earlier. Loy first read it in Natalie Barney’s salon in 1927; Caz’s second wife, once an Emma Goldman-inspired anarchist from Flatbush, bore a striking resemblance to the young Djuna Barnes. Coincidence?

Caz knew it could happen and of course it did— Brooklyn fatalism will out— she left him in 1955, amicably, for a woman. Caz left work in downtown Brooklyn the next day and took the Third Avenue El to Bay Ridge where he was going to have drinks with a friend’s sister whose husband had been killed in Korea; I won’t say if Caz expected to fuck her or not but people in Brooklyn fucked a lot back then: maybe she  fucked Caz? Don’t think for a second chaste, dessicated Marianne Moore is the world because she ain’t— she’s not even a patch of Fort Greene— not her or her clever goddamn hats at Dodgers games. Fucking Marianne Moore might as well have lived on the goddamn moon! Put on a space helmet, baby, and shake it! Caz  asked his drinking companion if she liked poetry and as he expected, she said she did: Yeats, Eliot, Auden, Dylan Thomas, Edith Sitwell. An Anglophile. Never mind Eliot from St. Louis and Auden drunk in Brooklyn. Caz and his companion left the saloon to take a walk in Bliss Park, to watch the ferries and other ships split the harbor.
—Kenny Wisdom

* This line is from one of Caz’s own late ’50s poems, “A Supermarket In Canarsie,” which we hope to republish soon.


Photo, “Colonial Road Is In Bay Ridge, Brooklyn; Colony Road Ain’t” by Amber Tides, courtesy the Rabun County, Georgia Museum of Contemporary Art

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