This city speaks
in an accent so thick
I hear everything
on the street lit
by everyone’s lips
no quiet only
I can’t think of anything else
on May 29th Nick and I
signed the papers to this place.
I quit but I bummed
a cigarette from an old man in the park
a bit of accordion in my voice or
in that merry-go-round
in the background
he said Ceegarrrette? the word got lighter
as it left his tongue he wasn’t
from around here and for a moment I wasn’t
some random girl either
we were in love
and demanding of each other
the finest foreign smoke.
I get it Big City; there's no end
to your street light, what
lies beyond (nothing) lurks
out there, but now you must wait
(forever) until morning as I have waited
(forever) to fall asleep, and wait
still and wait now and wait just
a second. It takes two of me to screw
in a light bulb: one to keep my eyes closed
(forever) and one to be open eyed and
satisfied when the switch works just fine.
Now look how the apartment becomes
a box of light; it burns like the others.
Be (forever) grateful. It takes each photon
1 million years to escape the sun.
I have never read The Sun Also Rises,
but I agree with its title and, this morning,
feel thankful the book exists alongside these
shop windows alive with shadow cars
and people. Relax. No one
runs; no one is missing; no one
slept past, say, his life. What have I
gained, you know, or given up? Forgotten
in advance, these failures, Lerner said.
These failures grow precious. I don't
want to be famous, not even after my conversation
with Nick about not wanting to be famous. A sun
sets around the pit of each peach, but
does a sun rise there as well? I feel strange
about the whole thing. I showed a little boy
yesterday, by standing on a chair, arms stretched
to the light, how to make his little bracelet
glow in dark of his cupped hands. You just hold it
up to the bulb, I said. And he said, Woah.
I should clarify that I'm not usually interested
in being human—I mean it. But
not in this second, so take me
like a chance.
* Manhattations is a book-length series of New York meditations/lamentations.
The selections here do not necessarily appear in the same order that they do in the series; however,
[This city speaks] is the first poem in the manuscript.