Four Poems

Blake Sandberg
Courtesy Lasse Olsson

Paid by the New York Public Library

It was late summer.

I had very little money left after bills, medication, etc.

I had been having incredible back pain to add to my chronic ear pain.

I took the train to Grand Central.

Walking to my pain specialist.

Here in America even if chronically ill and disabled somehow they force you to make a personal appearance at the doctor office once a month.

Routine torture.

Often to see the Dr. only for seconds then electronically email your prescription to the pharmacy.

Sometimes they made you do a test (to make more money off their cash cow patients).

Sometimes you have to piss in a cup.


To test for drugs.

All this due to assholes using prescription drugs to get high.

The war on drugs now on the crippled, pained, and disabled.

After my prescription extortion exercise I decided to do something worthwhile in the city.

I didn’t have much money but I had paid the price of admission to my beloved Manhattan.

I could see the roof of the main library in the distance to the west. I walked that way.

Up the steps past the majestic lions that guard this temple of knowledge.

I went to the revolving permanent collection gallery of artifacts, art, manuscripts...

A copy of The Declaration of Independence and Constitution are there.

A giant Durer print made up of 30 or more individual prints. 

Ancient Japanese scrolls.

An early phonograph.

A Lou Reed Transformer album cover photo print.

Objects owned by the famous.

A hand-written paper by Kerouac.

Hundreds of collected papers and objects.

I was tired and my back throbbed.

I saw a bench and made my way to sit down on the cool polished granite.

As I did I noticed a small roll of paper. I grabbed it.

It was $60, 3 twentys.

Some luck.

Paid by the New York Public Library. Things were a little brighter.


Andy Theft Device

Once while touring across America solo.

I had played a show.

Afterwards I drove to find the hotel.

This was before smart phones and gps.

I toured with a binder of print outs I made of detailed maps of cities where I was playing.

I also had a road atlas of America and a simple cell phone. 

I navigated the states fine in this manner.

On this night though I got lost.

It was dark I missed a turn.

Ending up in a neighborhood.

I had to turn around.

I saw a vacant lot between two houses.

I pulled toward the lot the headlights hit the ground showing green grass.

I began to brake and change gear to go into reverse to do a Y turn. 

When suddenly I saw Andy Warhol.

There on the ground in the dark.

Was a large poster of Andy Warhol in my headlights. I set the van into park.

Jumped out.

Walked into the grass.

The grass was wet with dew drops.

The poster was kind of floating on top of the blades of grass.

I reached down and grabbed it.

It wasn’t wet.

I quickly moved to the van – this was weird.

Placed the poster on the back seat on top of some gear.

I went around the van jumped into the driver seat.

Closed the door.

Executed my turn and headed back to find the street I missed and get to the hotel.

It was crazy thinking about the chances that had to happen to bring me to that neighborhood.

To turn at that exact place and shine my head lights directly on to the poster.


The next day I taped the poster into the van. On the wall behind the driver seat.

If you looked into the van through the side-door window you would see Andy’s face looking back at you.

The poster was installed in the van like this for years. 

Occasionally startling people riding with me as they got in. 

My “Andy – Theft Device,” I called it.

No one has broken into the van since...


Blue Morning

Jamming the keys into your pocket of your leather jacket 

You carefully fall down their stairs

Gravity is your friend

Feet landing on each step


Out the door

Into all of the city








Pigeons lined up in rows 

A solid gray sky

Rain soaked pavementLeaves






Cheerful man walking with fingers stretched as if to grasp something invisible

Parked cars 

Green lights 

A fog horn 


A passing bus


Foot steps

Buds at the ends of each branch 








The sun shines through the clouds 

It’s almost time


Under a Warm Lightbulb

An unread book 

Unseen painting

An unspoken word 

No roar of the crowd 

No medals

No podium

Singing in the dark

Words written alone at a desk 

Under a warm lightbulb

Or on a guitar at edge of bed 

Dreamed in a room

In silence

A note on paper

First stroke on canvas

Notes played

Vocals rasped

Music you will never hear

Words and image you will never see 

On this beautiful day

Light on closed eyelids

Warmth of the yellow light 


It’s Mardi Gras in New Orleans


Blake Sandberg

Blake Sandberg is an artist - painter, writer, songwriter, musician, and filmmaker. His writing was first published by Performing Arts Journal, MIT Press. He has pub- lished several collections of poems and stories NYC A Poem, Store In A Cool Dry Place, and Literature Only.

Blake's Articles on KGB LitMag