Mild-Mannered Night

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A few weeks ago, West Village penthouse

I love the mild-mannered night
Who treats me cordially, without slight.
She stoops down, so we walk together,
Like blue-brown birds of a feather.
She brushes my arm and smiles a smile
That gleams like a moon-lit mile
Of sharpened beer-bottle glass.
For in her still, Winter lingers
And its Stygian fingers
Still seek to clasp.

But Spring laughs–
Like fairy claps
A mild sound,
Full of round nouns
And dew-drop crowns
Woven of polymer-fiber dusk,
Slowly turning the sky to rust.

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Swollen Summer

The view from a home I used to know.

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I almost can’t wait for another swollen summer. I can’t wait for the blistering, sweltering heat. How it forces its way under your skin and holds you hostage inside strip malls and other suburban purgatories, lured in by the lewdest of the lewd: that seductive wet whirrrr of air conditioning.  I couldn’t keep one in my bedroom, what with the fire escape.  So at night I’d crawl out onto the hot metal grating to meditate on the blank New Jersey sky, able to pretend that the barest breath of a breeze was refreshing.

I’d curse the night: roiling but empty with a haze of too many lights from airport landing strips and sterile office buildings, formica kitchen counters and caustic railroad stations.  And burned into my memory is that night, years ago now, when we hooligans poured onto the streets and I was that girl with the dragon shirt: dancing red green and gold over the swamp-lit streets.  And it seemed to me that the earth was as blank as that cloudless sky, even with the streets so filled with the half-feral youth of a mile-wide town.

That’s far away now.  My mind overwritten with other summers, other longings.  And yet, and yet.  There are constants in the meadowlands.  I miss how each day the lush trees would grow more and more jaded to the sweating masses underfoot and the morse code of fireflies as they call to each other in the night.  I miss the honeysuckle outside my window: climbing up the bricks of a childhood that I no longer own.

Title stolen, with apologies, from The Bravery who were a big deal for about five minutes when I was fifteen.

3 Poems For Spring

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Outside Cole’s at NYU

It seems as if all the flowers of the world have blossomed at once, or did you just now notice the forsythia outside your window? Yellow and bell-like, inherently graceful with their long necks stemming from that brown branch. But look again, and lean your head back to see pear trees with their heads adorned all in white with an almost invisible green veil, standing bridal at the street corner.  Or turn and stoop with the magnolias while you can: those  fat purple-pink-white petals always rain down onto the earth far too soon. They fade, they all fade. When better to see the sweet sakura than in bloom?   You will turn back again to remember this time when you were just so happy and grateful to be alive, still standing on a planet made of packed earth, because of the wild twist of trees against a perforated sky…

A cool breeze flits about my bare legs, enough to hurry me along.  But the cotton swish of skirt against my skin makes a passing thought to the smell that finds me in the dark: the calling card of a short pear tree made more ornate than a candelabrum, than a cake on Christmas. I am so in love with spring: so drunk on the feeling of it. So many things come alive around me, no longer locked in their cold shells. Foolish, I mourn their passing when they’ve barely arrived.   Every petal will soon fall: like the water drops that slip through my fingers to melt into the earth. I am greedy: I cup my hands and catch them, unable to just enjoy the falling rain.

Why is the city so beautiful on spring nights? Stunted trees twist in their planters to dapple patterns on skin bared beneath neon lights. A crowd of hedonistic youths undulates past, howling up to that punctured skyline of mis-matched fate. Take me with you, I cry to them, wherever you are going. There is too little for me in the hermitage of my own life. I want to feel a beat tattooed across my skin, like the pulsing of the packed earth itself breaking into song. There are wilds beneath the pavement, but maybe just the loam and the stones and the corroded wood husks remember. There is nothing to do but walk over them, weaving down Broadway between the backs of those packs from out of state. They let me experience the lights by proxy: Times Square is an eyesore of a show with money in screaming colors plastered across every surface. So we’ll slowly pick our way south, to the more organic glow of bar lights spilling out onto these dusty streets we call home.

Because finals and final projects are coming up and also because I, understandably I feel, didn’t feel like writing any odes to the weather this spring, the above are three poems I wrote last year.