if this is happiness

how shall we leave it,
if this is grief, how to enter it,
if this is just a rented room,
where are the doors, the stairs,
the streets, the endless city.

Excerpt from  ‘R E T U R N   T O   T H E   C A P I T A L’   by   D.  N U R K S E


14th Street, Union Square

I wrote this between train stops and transfers
Remember, life is casual:

Commands in every window,
Pretty people making eye contact
and looking away. 

going up

My fly is unzipped.

Just like the Vietnamese philosopher
that cornered me in elevator conversation said:
I’m trapped in an eight-year old’s body.
Standing before the N section on the 4th floor,
he waited for my reflection to speak something profound
of his Microsoft-painted Vermeer.
It was a confused copy, screaming Fauve,
Woman-In-A-Hat’s sister,
a sorry separation.

I backed away and shuffled books on the shelves,
faking interest in titles on technology
and gender.

—From prose, drafted 01/24/11

the wind, one brilliant day

I had promised my friend Thom months, and months, and months ago that I would design him a postcard with the words of Antonio Machado’s poem, The Wind, One Brilliant Day. I am a promise-keeper, but not a timeline-keeper (usually), so I still do plan to finish this for Thom (as he has helped me out so much through my collegiate years and beyond).
The plan is to release the poem on here, line by line, until I’ve completed all eight lines of Wind.

• • • • •

(As an aside, I’ve been trying to get motivated + work — seriously — since I moved here, and am diligently attempting to correct the two things I’ve felt have kept me from art: The proper equipment and a good desk + chair to work at.

(Well, I got the computer programs I “need” [or just really, really wanted] and the other day I scooped a 1950’s kitchen table for two, complete with fold-down leaves, off the curb.  Still working on the chair part, but for now — let there be a fauxstudio!)


Last night I went to a poetry reading at Housing Works Bookstore on Crosby Street. It wasn’t planned — I’d passed the store three times a week for the past month and a half, yet never ventured in. It just so happened I chose the right night to check it out, as the U.S. Poet Laureate and Pulitzer Prize winner Philip Levine was doing a free reading along with other young, talented poets.

There is something special about the atmosphere at a poetry reading — every word is carefully selected and counted for something, sentences are well-crafted and emotions waft through a crowded room. It was invigorating to hear artists recite each verse from their soul.

Portrait of Philip Levine by Geoffrey Berliner

One of favorite lines of the night from Levine:


“I’m not really known as a love poet because I don’t write love poems; but I’m going to read a poem called ‘Of Love & Other Disasters.'”

 Hopefully I will have more of these unexpectedly wonderful encounters —

j

an attempt at exhausting a place in soho

I was recently gifted a lovely quick read called An Attempt at Exhausting a Place in Paris by Georges Perec. It’s a short book that chronicles the weekend events of Perec from the same café window in Paris. Perec notes all the mundane details that we visually erase and often fail to register due to their abundance — buses passing, pigeons, the common passerby. In the collection of passages you begin to gather a rhythm of life and everyday actions.

I wanted to try Perec’s study for myself, and took to a café window this evening in SoHo. It was the perfect perch on the corner of Spring and Crosby streets, with counters lining the windows that allow for an ideal lookout. All the beautiful people in the street are irresistible to me, and from this corner I can see the most exquisite fashions, women, men, dogs, people on bikes, shoes, sunglasses, hats, skirts of chiffon and jackets of fine leather, hair of every cut and color, jewelry swinging like pendulums around gorgeous necks. Women carry bright shopping bags and the sleekest handbags of every color, stilted on heels and walking with unimaginable ease over the old brick roads of Crosby Street. Men make their outfits look effortless, rolled slacks and city boots in smooth, worn leathers and tailored jackets, roused hair or slick with a gentleman’s refinement. Kitty-corner is a brick building rising six stories, with a rooftop patio lined by a fence of thin, manicured shrubs. The energy is brilliant.

The outcome of this experiment was quite unexpected, but very true to New York.

An Attempt at Exhausting a Place in SoHo


6:32 p.m., Spring and Crosby Streets

Shoes and tights
bright blue sneakers
Shopping bag
Shopping bag
Two men walking…in the wrong direction
Shopping bag
A woman in a sculpted coat
A heavy man in holey pants and a baseball cap
Yoga pants, yoga pants
A cheetah print coat
A woman with Auburn hair texting on the curb
A backpack
A cigarette
A women in heels flying past on a mustard-colored bicycle
Taxi cab
A man riding faster on an electric blue bicycle
A gentleman
A runner in neon shoes
A man in a neon orange jacket
More texting
More shopping bags
Another taxi cab
A woman in high-heeled boots carrying a large square box
Houndstooth
A popped collar
Taxi cab
Taxi cab
Perfectly groomed man with slicked-back hair
A beautiful afro
Patterned tights and a pom-pom hat
A drunk man lurks behind me
A plump man tripping over his feet
Floodwater pants
A metal handbag
A trio of black leather jackets
A sharp nose
The drunk man apologizes, says he needs help
Tory Burch
Royal purple
An employee asks the drunk man to leave
A woman carrying a box of cupcakes
Two cabs stalled at an intersection
Shopping bags
Shopping bags
A yoga mat
Black tights and high heels
The manager calls the police
An old man walking with his hands behind his back
Two men out for a smoke
A popped collar
A peacoat
Louis Vuitton and bedazzled Ugg boots
Shopping bag
A woman halting to dump a bag of potato chips into her mouth
A pom-pom hat
Two thick fur jackets walking together
The drunk man dozes off in the chair next to me (police on their way)
A neon Yankees cap
Metallic thread
The woman who dumped potato chips in her mouth has come inside and is now sitting behind me
A furry cheetah jacket
Police are here
Manager saying, “Just do what you gotta do,”
Police asking the drunk man if he’d like to go to the hospital
Police name the man “Charlie,”
An iridescent trenchcoat
An NYPD car parked across the street
Patchwork jeans with zippers everywhere
A leather jacket studded with silver spikes
Combat boots
A woman in pink pants standing outside the window in front of me, kissing a lover
An angry customer yells at the barista
A man steps out of a cab
The policeman goes outside to check his phone
A nonfat chai for Mary
A vanilla steamer for Ali
An orange head scarf
An ambulance pulls up
The policemen carry the drunken man away
The ambulance is loaded
It’s 7:03 p.m.

I remember you from the
chin up
two and a half months to divorcing 
because of different opinions
write a business plan
incompatibility
for my pastry shop.
– – –
— A compilation of found words + overheard phrases,  03 • 14 • 12

so this begins

So begins the whim
of dates and grins
story-swapping
morning coffee
glory wrapped
interests, tapped
lunches and
bunches and bunches of ways
in which
I am happy.

• • • • •

This is my 1100th post. Wow, wow, and wow  — what nearly four years can create!

x
j