Just then Luke said "New Orleans" and I really heard him.
Saw the wrought-iron balconies and the haze of heat and dust.
Saw the slow-moving smiling people getting high in the sun,
drinking black coffee down in the French market,
the big boats unloading fruit and fish, large healthy gulls screaming and turning,
and nearly said "I'm going with you."
We both could hear the words hanging silent in the dusty room,
the room waited, but I didn't speak.
Two things held me back. One was our code, our eternal tiresome rule of Cool,
that would have made it impossible for me to say those words without blowing our entire scene,
retrospectively even, blowing what had gone before,
so that if I had indeed gone with Luke all the magic would have gone out of our coming together-
or so it seemed to us then.
The other was my total, unutterable fascination with Manhattan,
a love affair with the city that I was in the midst of, caught up in, it turned out, for many years.
An overwhelming love of the alleys and warehouses,
of the strange cemetery downtown at Trinity Church,
of Wall Street in the dead of night,
Cathedral Parkway on Sunday afternoons,
of the Chrysler building gleaming like fabled towers in the October sun,
the incredible prana and energy in the air,
stirring a creativity that seemed to spring from the fiery core of the planet
and burst like a thousand boiling volcanoes in the music and painting,
the dancing and the poetry of this magic city.
So, instead of speaking, I took his hand.
"When are you going?" I asked him.
"This morning, he said.
Excerpt from "Memoirs of a Beatnik" by Diane Di Prima
Photographs by Anna Ristuccia
I want to see stars, and snow, and ghosts.
I'm going upstate to hunt for all of these things.