Toronto

1.
The sidewalk stones
blur together and
I know they are still
securely beneath my feet
only because I can
hear the heavy shuffle of leather against
loose cobblestones.

2.
Hours spent
under the lace-y
street car cables
outlining the invisible constellations
an intricate web of
knots and lines to
keep be firmly separated
from the
stars.

Muddy headed and
red-streaked I am
experiencing gravity to its fullest,
and the overhead netting
spanning the
turbulent intersections
finally feels like
overkill.

Boston

1.
I haven’t written a poem about a girl
in one year and three months
and that was a
hate poem,
sharpened into wordy malevolence
and spread like a confession.

(She sucks her cigarettes firmly
dimpled cheeks caving in on themselves
overtaken by crumbling carcinogens
lighting each one carefully
from the end of her father’s
ever-present smoke,
tucked firmly between his writing fingers)

I swore off the girly poetry and
switched to big city grit
subway stories and
late night escapades through a
dimly lit brooklyn.

(her sleepless habits tucked safely into
the bags beneath her lids and
her paleness by porch light is
cadaverous)

2.
the last girl i might have loved
still writes-
delicately scrawled
dated from weeks before the postmark,
one thing I never loved was
forgetfulness.

the last girl I might have loved
kissed me unceremoniously beside her mailbox
bare toes crackling against
the morning heat on the asphalt
but her silly wool sweater and
how her legs draw together at the knees are
what I prefer
to remember.

3.
We are a table full of
degenerates
slouched against the torn vinyl seats
we slam mugs full of
honey’d tea
angrily against the dented table and
listen to rock and roll.

smooth blossoms of playing cards
forming fans to
heave away the stiff air,
frustrated obscenities and
pristinely sober laughter
infiltrates the deck.

feet propped against the edges of
the table we
take cigarette breaks and
drown ourselves in
puddles of melting ice cream while a
hollow voice from the speakers reminds us
we should be drunk by now.

New York City

1.
there are men
in the subway tunnels here
their faces like ghostly portraits hung
along the curving walls,
caked with the hard lines of living longer
than you can afford.

2.
He mumbles something in Spanish and
steps on the backs of my sandals
a stutter in my stride,
a drunken giggle slides through
his teeth
and I don’t suppose he
laughs much.
At the end of the concrete I can
hear his
beer-piss spattering into the
puddles beneath the
tracks as
he tells himself stories
about old girlfriends and other things he
never got to do.

99 cents

We speak in broken stories
over long distance phone calls where we
check the clock too often asking
if this is really worth 99 cents a minute?

Faltering and surging our
conversation is stilted
careening on failing rails we fill the
negative space with reasons
we are enjoying ourselves.

And it’s not for lack of fuel –
unasked questions fester
and compost
at the low curve of my stomach
developing into dirt all too fertile,
southern soil
rooted with jealous entanglements
I can feel the
vines
rising in my throat.

Washington D.C.

1.
Riding the submerged subway
back to the bad part of the city.
The young black woman is
writing song lyrics into
a smudged composition book.
She’s blanketed in a sweater,
the wet July air forming tributaries of sweat at the
cusp of her hair.
I wonder what is so
Important
to keep in that she is willing to
boil herself in those heavy knits.
The back of her right shoulder houses a
rip in the tightness of the yarn and I want to tell her-
that’s why you can’t find the words for your
next verse-
they have all run out on you,
sparking themselves happily against the tracks.

2.
Domed and high ceiling’d
ridged concrete seams like the
vertebrae
and uncrackable ribs of some
unspeakable creature
growling beneath the steel and glass
exoskeleton of
this brittle city.
Swallowed into the
pulsing innards the
heat of digestion, churning riders over loose tracks
in a frenzy destined for the edges of the
desolate metropolis,
vomit scrubbed from the floors and
sweat wiped from the sticky pleather seats to
keep the nutrition less river of
white eyed poverty
trapped in the city’s
snaking stomach.

Wordy

I am home, tired, and happy.

I have been traveling with my best friend for the last two weeks. We went up the East Coast, with stops in D.C., New York, Boston, Niagara, and Toronto. We pulled into the driveway at 5 am this morning after driving for 13 hours.

The past two weeks have been interesting in a lot of ways – from experiencing truly big cities to discovering the drinking age is 19 in Toronto to meeting awesome people, it has definitely been a journey.

Despite crazy days, I got the chance to write a great deal while traveling. New York especially inspired me in a way that I don’t think I’ve ever experienced before, which was exciting. I will definitely be back for more.

In several following posts, I’m going to group poems by city. It may not seem like a lot of writing, but for someone who sometimes goes months without producing anything new, it’s a pretty big deal.

Just for fun, here are a couple of my favorite pictures from the trip.

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The Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C.

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Williamsburg, Brooklyn was my favorite part of New York.

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We went to Queensbridge Park to see George Clinton and Parliament Funkadelic, who were playing for free there. It was a fun show, and the views were awesome. What beats city skylines and some classic funk?

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Boston’s North End felt very European, with crowded, winding streets and a lot to look at.

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Toronto had a lot of personality, and managed to harbor some interesting spots and keep it’s hip, bike-friendly, smaller-city feel despite being pretty dang big.

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Niagara falls were breathtaking. That was a truly unparalleled experience.

Do-er

Everyone makes plans. We are a society of planners, schedulers, goal-setters. Making plans and then making them happen are different beasts, however, and sometimes we all fall short on that last one.

Looking back on the past few years, however, none of my plans have fallen through. Sure, day to day hangouts and to-do lists aren’t always accomplished, but the big stuff- it has all happened. Close to exactly how I initially decided to do it. That just blows my mind. Initially, the thought that popped into my head was, “wow, I’m so lucky to have a life where I can just plan almost anything I want to do and then have the means to make it happen.”

Some of that is definitely luck. But after thinking further, a big part of it isn’t. It’s being a do-er. It’s deciding in a moment that you’re going to do something, and then doing it regardless of the obstacle. Cheesy? A little. But it has become cliche for a reason. Being a do-er has given me incredible opportunities, including having an unbelievably fun summer – being a do-er doesn’t have to be limited to a career or academics.

And now I’m deciding something else. And by writing it down on the internet, I feel as if it makes it official. My poetry grows from roots of experience – both good and bad. I do live a privileged life, and there really isn’t any way to alter that (not that I’d want to). But I do want to have certain experiences, one of which is being a true traveler, a nomad, which is not something I’d ever be forced into given my background. I don’t know when it’s going to happen (I don’t like to over-plan), but sometime in the next year or two, I need to spend a month investigating people I’ve never seen in places I’ve never been, walking into people’s lives and then walking out again with their stories.

I’ve always let myself make the argument that my writing just comes when it comes, and I usually don’t make myself write. Writing is definitely an art, but like any art there is no improvement without practice.

Tomorrow, I leave on a two week road trip with my best friend. When I planned it, I viewed it as bonding time and a good excuse to roam the North East with a tried-and-true travel buddy. But now, with new plans on the horizon, I want to look at it more as a test run.

Poetry – prepare to be done.