Something there is that doesn’t like a wall,

Robert Frost

Waiting for a ferry out of Weehawken

he leaned against a towering brick wall

triggering stories he heard about when

it smelled like rain mixed with a residue

of men who relieved themselves

lined up in front of a firing squad

like FARC rebels in Medellin

or Shining Path guerrillas in Peru

who weren’t as calm as Cummings

trapped in The Enormous Room

who quipped when threatened:

“You wish to ask when I prefer

to become immortal?”

Protruding hardware holds up a remnant

of a tattered billboard clinging to the wall:

“Forever yours, Fanny Farmer Candies.”

Stainless steel washers look like eyes

with black bolts for pupils as if they’re

scanning the horizon for unwelcome

immigrants or suicidal terrorists

who might try to tunnel under or hoist

a grappling hook to heave over like

escaping convicts at Alcatraz.

Aboard the boat he thinks of a man whose mind

was a murky, tangled maze.

Locked away in a back ward his days were spent

counting bricks on a wall built years ago

by bricklaying immigrants from Calabria.

The man was an optician with an eye for precision

who couldn’t get enough of the horizontal

and vertical orderly sequence of bricks.

His audit of bricks stilled voices he heard

untangling his knot of confusion.

He no longer had to be chased down the hall

to be zapped in his head.

The staff condoned his Sisyphus-like counting,

the only remedy that had a calming effect.