The Poetry Project

The Replication Machine

Erika Meitner

Hillary, I miss taxis at night—do people still use them,
or is it all Uber and Lyft?

The way their yellow bodies shush down Houston
or Broadway especially in the rain and you raise your hand
and there’s one sidling up next to you open and ready
to take you nowhere predetermined with their lighted
hats of ads perched jauntily on top at your service

I also miss my unlimited MetroCard, though pushing
through turnstiles with my hips never had the same
slick caché as sliding across a backseat then telling the
driver an intersection, and was often hard to swipe
when drunk, but I loved its lack of accountability and
the fact that my final destination was a mystery
sometimes even to me

In “The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical
Reproduction” Walter Benjamin talks about Eugène
Atget’s photos of deserted Paris streets—that he
photographed them like scenes of crimes, for the
purpose of establishing evidence

I’m positive the whole alcohol-soaked photographic
tour you sent me last night of your walk from the Lower
East Side to the West Village was not a crime, but I
loved seeing that woman in the tight white cocktail
dress and heels in a fluorescent pizza parlor eating a
slice standing up from here in my perch in the Blue
Ridge mountains at 1 a.m.

And I also loved the animated red-headed dude in the
cheetah print overalls with no shirt underneath talking
to you in the video with no sound

The photo of the Weed World truck parked on the
corner of Bleecker and Lafayette

The pic of you with your THC lollipop

I’m going to say this though it makes me sound old AF:
back before Y2K we didn’t have this technology

The best evidence we could gather from a hard night of
drinking was a body next to us in the morning (or not)

“The city is a huge monastery,” said Erasmus

There’s the corner of Washington Square, Broadway and
Mercer, the Water-Soda-Chicken-Kebab-Hot-Dog-Truck
on video playing street music I can’t name in a
language I can’t decipher—maybe Arabic disco or
Spanish rap

In the last frame you sent, tail and brake lights of cabs
shine extra bright with halos flaring red as lips or
emergency flashers, a cluster of want and accidents

An aura is a unique phenomenon of distance (Benjamin

You are far away and I am a beholder—one who

We all have a desire to bring things closer

The photo leaves its locale to be received in the studio
of a friend, a lover, a stranger, whomever

Don’t we all have auras / halos / glares that obscure
the thing beneath, our outlines & shapes

Don’t we all have imperceptible apertures where the
light gets in

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