The Hangover in New York

After Wislawa Szymborska's "The End and The Beginning"


Fifth Estate # 407, Fall, 2020


Note: Hangovers are cantilevered buildings in New York City. Italics are quotes from Wislawa Szymborska’s poem.

Arise! Time to leave squalor, filth behind

the wars, carts of corpses, sludge and ashes

instead, let’s build heavens in New York’s blue skies

ignore the shards of glass, the bloody rags below

Look up to Manhattan’s fresh fields of cloud

Purchase a thousand metres of empty air

And cantilever, a feat of engineering:

A tall, billowing palace of the firmament

An inversion of the traditional wedding cake

(because the higher you go, the more space is valuable)

Here, homes are made of marble, onyx, steel, and lace

Glittering towers, punch drunk with conspicuous

Consumption on top of a world few can afford

Where below rubbish is shoved to the roadside.

Come! Raise your eyes to the future

Gawk at the clouds, pay your dollar.

Kate Ennals is a prize-winning poet and writer who has lived in Ireland for 25 years. She runs poetry and writing workshops in County Cavan. Her blog is at