The Sun Was a Kissing Cousin in 1959

Photo, p. 151, from Anarchy, Protest & Rebellion: And the Counterculture that Changed America by Fred W. McDarrah
A tenement rooftop for cool summer
breezes and views of the bridges from
Henry Street, August 30, 1959

It can’t be too hot because
everyone wears shirts or skirts
as they relax on “Tar Beach
where I would spread a blanket
in this kingdom of water towers,
gargoyles, fire escapes
and odor of burnt tires.
I’d climb six flights,
unhinge the latch
on the clunky metal door,
and find a spot to lie
in the sun as it caressed
my face and chest.
We were urban animals above it all.
In this photo you can’t find a penthouse
on the beat-up surfaces and
stone walls. Rooftops
recede in a film of clouds.
In the distance, the span
of the Manhattan Bridge, and further out
a shadow of the Brooklyn Bridge,
with the concrete of Henry Street
waiting six floors below.
I am the guy in the center of the rooftop.
A tingle runs up my legs.
As you can guess,
I also love the view
of the bridge, the slight ripples
of the East River,
not to mention the bustle
on Delancey Street,
but my thighs
sing a troubling tune
about a fling, a flight,
an urge
to leap over
the edge.

Interrupted by the Sea, Paul Lieber’s second collection of poetry, was published in 2018 (What Books Press). His first collection, Chemical Tendencies (Tebot Bach Press), was a finalist in the Main Street Rag Poetry Contest. He also received an honorable mention in the Allen Ginsberg Poetry Award. Three times nominated for a Pushcart Prize, Paul produced and hosted Why Poetry on Pacifica Radio in L.A. and Santa Barbara. Guests included Poet Laureates, National Book Award Winners and many known and lesser-known poets. Paul’s poems have appeared in The Moth, New York Quarterly, Paterson Literary Review, Askew, Poemeleon, Alimentum, and many other journals and anthologies. He taught creative writing at Loyola Marymount University and facilitated the poetry workshop at Beyond Baroque, the oldest literary institute in Los Angeles.

Paul works as an actor. He currently teaches at AMDA. His website:

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