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Pen Spinning

As my pen spins
corners blur
I see things
the way they were

as she's thinking
in her chair
in a feeling
we both share

as she listens
always spinning
beside me
old beginnings

come to ends
settings change places
missing friends
familiar faces

rolling ball pen
ready to write
spins uncertain
comes round right

spinning pen
now is mine
we start our hearts
a second time


Every Letter

every letter says i love you
between the lines.
between the whining
and the soothing words
that tell me i'm not alone

what's in a story
about someone i don't know?
or in hearing
about a hard test i didn't take?

the envelope sliding off her fingers
into the mailbox
just for me
means more than a thousand words
and a million stories
i love to hear

getting the letter is happiness
writing it is love


rooftop sestina

all day shining through the window was the sun
we passed from class to class like we were wind
sterile hallways never felt so warm
and my eyes searching for my laughing
desks and tiles on walls were a color so light
the class periods were short

the end of a day so short
is a beginning when we walk out into the sun
it touches our backs so light
and is swept off by sweeping wind
we meet familiar faces, we are laughing
where i stand now i am waiting, i am warm

when she comes i am more warm
we meet in short
depart on fingers reaching out in laughing
move out into the sun
between blue bars on a bridge my face meets the wind
two blue eyes dancing to find them on a day so light

i wait again and though the air is light
the warmth inside me is not quite so warm
cold now is the dancing of the wind
i hear a voice and hope his stay is short
i look into the coming sun
await the laughing

it is here-- the laughing
smiles on friends are so light
walking endlessly under the sun
until we end. we are so warm
it is too bad our walk was short
but we are together and our day whistles like wind

we are out of the wind
indoors in loving and laughing
two short, one tall
three hungry stomachs feeling light
we sit on rooftops in the warm
beauty of a hugging sun

smiles sailing in the wind on jokes so light
it is our laughing that makes me warm
despite the cold on a short day in the sun


friday

     Today we had a test in AP global.
Those tests are a big deal around here.
     You'll find APers congregating
everywhere. They've all memorized the
same information and repeat it amongst
themselves to feel secure in that they're
not alone and that they know what
everyone else knows. To assimilate. I
came in ready for an AP test day. I
rode the escalator to first period with
note cards in hand. I saw an APer ahead
of me. He was certainly one of the cuter
APers, strawberry blonde hair, perfect
face, not a friend of mine, but I knew
him. I figured that I'd probably catch up
to him by the next escalator, and I'd ask
him the AP question of the day, "are you
ready for the test?" By the second
escalator I had almost caught up to him.
But when I was right behind him I stayed
there. I didn't make an attempt to get
his attention. I didn't ask if he was
ready for the test. I was paralyzed by a
feeling that people like me don't talk to
people like him. Neither type of person
was superior but I felt a wall between us,
and I was scared that if I talked to him,
he would respond because he felt
obligated, but that he would be annoyed
by me, and not like me, and never think
of me as a possible friend, but as
someone on the other side of a wall.
     Julia is one of my best friends,
and she calls me all the time. Every
phone call should be a reassertion of the
fact that she wants to be my friend, but
I still often wonder if she really likes
me. Every day before gym I wonder if it
would be too much to stop by her locker
to talk, before I go to mine. Everyday
I'm a little afraid that doing that would
be a declaration that I like her. I'm
afraid that I like her more than she likes
me.
     When I got to English I put my bag
on my desk where I always sit regardless
of where anyone else sits, because I AM
NOT a follower, and because there's no
one I'm committed to in this class.
Some people are talking in a section of
the room adjacent to mine. I try to talk
to them. They might look at me, or
might just pause, without looking before
continuing their conversation. They never
really respond. That is, they never
include me. Usually someone sits next
to me, but when I talk to them it always
comes out wrong, and I swallow my
words and I'm afraid to be myself.
Someone inside me is hiding myself
away, and I try to come out but I'm too
scared that they won't like me and will
leave, and I'll be alone again. I feel like
no one listens when I talk. When I'm
there I'm sure of it. That's why I can't
get a word in edgewise.
     I took the train home alone, and
thought about how Julia had her school
friends to go blading with, and Louis was
probably celebrating his birthday with his
friends, but if Julia and Louis are my
friends, then where does that leave me?
     Tonight I talked to Jeremy on the
phone. We talked about everything, and
we remembered a time when I felt secure.
And Jeremy made me feel better and told
me I was beautiful. What if I had known
that all day? That my face was beautiful,
and my feet, and my soul, and my
personality. Then of course the APer on
the escalator would want to talk to me.
     I dream of a world where there's a
law written in stone that everything is
beautiful. There's a sign on every street
corner, and an ad on every subway and
bus. Lettered on every penny and every
dime, and on billboards stretching up to
the sky:

EVERYTHING IS BEAUTIFUL



"Esav.0.2"

Where is Esav?

Being in a big way:
rapid
and coarse.

Where is my "what's in a birth rite?"
boy?
He has no nation
but sips on soup
soup soup savior, and not a boy.
but there was a boy.

Esav will let the blood of the kill
splatter on a thick face with
lines, broad hips, bushy brows burrowing
haste,
and sweat
cast off with a figurally very good hand.
the touch
was in the hand.
damn.

Esav will run fast with the hunt
and leave me waiting
staring up into these lips
on a tall framed face
"and I would like to draw you some day."

now listen,
i danced with angels on a pillow one
night
and snuck away, alone
to weave my fingers through the black
hair of a boy.

but, was it in his deam or really in
mine?

come, sit with me as
i watch the ones who dream
as they dream.
And I'll dream of Esav
as Esav sleeps sound.

now, which brother serves the other?
i know, i know.
but where has Esav gone?
the one with the sword.
he'll break the boy's yoke, but will he
break the boy's neck?
no. no? no.
damn.

and tell me:
What is in a birth rite?
the strength of a prophesy
on your back and in your children.
whereas,
Esav has strength in him,
and squeezes.

and i was by the side of the well when i
saw that boy coming.
it could have been me.
It was.
or was i the one under the wedding veil,
and equally surprised
not to find Esay there,
did you know:
the water in the well was my
fertility.
damn.

my Esav,
red head, earth man.
the boy is an Achilles action figure.
shaking a heal, but i say the weakness is
in him
he is frail
and he is running away
from Esav.

and where has Esav gone?


"The Cinnamon Sticky Buns"

 There once was a boy named Mortimer
Mausmann who immaculately discovered that
the Buddha has for many years been
misrepresented. There is no Nirvana!
"Rather," said Mortimer, "we should all
aspire to reach Nevada."
 Unfortunately for Mortimer Mausmann,
at the time of his epiphany he was rather
far from his new-found Mecca. But as he
was rather excited to arrive there as
promptly as possible, he wasted no time
in selling some blue chips that
represented his interests in a vacuum
cleaner company called Mastermaid, and
headed west.
 Nevada was a disappointment to
Mortimer when he arrived with nothing to
do. Vacuum cleaners still on the brain,
he called up the local division of
Mastermaid and got a job selling
carpeting. The masterminds at Mastermaid
had developed an elaborate scheme to
impose carpeting on the world, thereby
substantially increasing the necessity of vacuum cleaners. (Insert evil laugh
here.)
 Mortimer Mausmann visited the
masterminds at Mastermaid, two twins who
both had electric eyes, like the ones one
finds in elevator doors. If they ever
looked away from one another they would
freeze. This displeased the Mastermaid
Corporation, and so, anxious to tap the
minds of these geniuses, they locked them
into desks which faced each other inside
the great Mastermaid war room, where
there was a microwave and an endless
supply of rather sticky cinnamon buns.
 Full of the religious fervor and
empowerment that came with being in the
state of Nevada, Mortimer Mausmann
negotiated with an elicit agency in the
Nevada State Government, whose influence
is far reaching. The terms of the
arrangement provided that Mortimer would
carpet all of Nevada in exchange for a
comfortable home in that great state of
enlightenment.
 And that is why I feel comfortable
packing so many pairs of heels for my
trip to Nevada.
 But, upon arriving in Nevada I am
displeased to find the carpet to be
covered in a sticky, sugary, richly
scented, and nauseating mess. It is
nothing a vacuum cleaner can clean. I
invest in carpet cleaner and make a
fortune.


On the Gray Staircase

 Gray staircase at the end of the hall. No door, just open
steps. The hall appears to get darker, but there's a light below.
 The steps go into an anteroom, bright-bright, lots of
mirrors and chairs. One girl is sitting. Two are standing, and
they are laughing raucously. A tall boy leans against the wall.
He has left the ballroom. It was all too much for him, but I
enter. Scarlet and purple velvets line the chairs. Lamps are low.
Light is dim. Dim is thick. No one has come this evening, but
my supper is ready.

 Meals come and pass here. Breakfast is really no
different from lunch or dinner, and sometimes at one meal I find
it difficult to remember which meal came begore. Always they
are served in different rooms, the table set neatly and the food
arranged with impeccable geometric taste. The silverware is
twenty-four carat, and engraved with my image. I am Julius.

 Sometimes I hear the baby crying, but I can't remember
where I left her. Every corner of this house is the same.
 Seven corners.
 Seven towers.
 And the hours I spend looking for her! Just when I think
she'll be around the next corner I find myself back in my own
bedroom. I cry for her at night as she cries for me during the
day.

 Gray staircase at the end of the hall. The cement steps
have a cold black iron banister. This is the back way. There are
people in a line outside the bathroom. Most of them wear hats,
but on some shoulders hair falls freely, and bounces as the light
plays upon its hues. The food is cold. I exit through a different
door. I hear music coming from the ballroom. I follow the
notes past the woman who comes daily to try and fix the clock.
Her efforts fall like that rich hair, bouncing on shoulders that
never waited on a line in my hallway. I am alone.
 The door to the ballroom is mahogany like the baby's
hair. Inside there is a viola and an oboe. The piano is missing a
few keys and the music exists more than the musicians do. The
baby is crying, but again, I don't know where to find her. I
rend my shirt, and the white silk falls heavily like snow off a
roof when the door bangs shut.

 I eat my lunch and wipe the strawberry sauce from my
mouth. I fold my napkin and leave it alongside my dish, which
is clear. I leave up a gray staircase, and when I come to dinner
there is a girl at the other end of the table.
 "My goodness, you're all grown."
 "I grew while you were on the gray staircase."
 "You've grown well."
 "But I am alone."
 "They didn't play songs for you, or read you stories?"
 "No."
 "Then come, sit in my lap, and I will tell you a story
about a house with seven towers and a broken clock. Someone
is watching that house, an image in the mind. It grows as the
words of this story are passed along. The house is dark because
there is no sun, only the light of a lamp by the bedside of an old
man. The old an takes a bit of plasticine, and fashions a girl.
He reflects that she reminds him of someone he knew in his
youth, but the name is beyond his thoughts. He sits the girl at a
table with another doll, and in the glint of the lamplight it seems
to the old man that they are crying. Then the old man, whose
name is Joseph, smiles because he remembers that the clock
works now. He pushes the hands gently with thick clumsy
fingers, and the clock strikes seven.
 "He knows now that it is time to attend to the baby on the
other side of the room. She has been crying all night. He
doesn't know where her mother has gone, and he knows that his
heaves and sighs are numbered. Joseph carries the baby out of
the room, and down the dirt road. He makes her a garland of
flowers and leaves her outside St. Michael's Cathedral with a
note. Fumbling for the right words, he writes:
 'This is also Atama. Please see that she grows.'"


Tribute

We're leaving Tribeca at
3:45 on October 14.
1995 won't grow on me.
We buy Snapple on Chambers Street
And take the 4 train almost all the way up.

Did you know I waited for you on the
8th floor and the world
Stopped as I hoped for
Your blessing?
Was leaving the team right, or had I just run away?
You were frowning.
I could never read you.
Now I can talk to you.

I guess I thought
I'd be able to talk to you.
For all that I can ask you
How the team is doing,
Or tell you about my life:
I still can't say,
"I miss you."

Sunshine of my life in soup bowl hair
I buy soup on St. Mark's Street.
And you come to our make believe
Alphabet City on 41st Street.
You were cold, in a blanket, huddling there.

Did you know that
After I quit I walked
Straight out of the room
And into the bathroom
In tears?
Because I missed you already.

Did I ever tell you how lucky
I felt to debate with you,
Or how much respect I
Have always had for you?

In October of my beginning
You told me what debate was like:
A Snapple bottle:
Pink lemonade
Was such a freshman thing to drink.
I'm past stopping for lemonade
On Chambers Street.

Weeks have passed,
Since the end, and I see you on my train
Only, we don't go anywhere.
There is nothing to learn from bottles
Or bottle wrappers.
I hadn't meant to quit a friendship.

When we were small
You were the only one to
Watch us.
No one else thought we were winners.

And when I won it was with you.
Lynn showed us
The inside of your jacket.
We laughed, and
Knew even less about you.
That was when we told Carrie
How you're not so nice.
I could never read you.

Now Listen.
I can't talk to you because I never finished my work.
I let you down.
I feel shame.
I lost.
And I miss you.

October 14 at 3:45,
1995--the year that never grew on me,
We bought Snapple on Chambers Street
And took the 4 train almost all the way up.
We were going somewhere, then.


The Last Dance

Today is the last day of my early years
and i take a walk to eighth grade
before there were accordion folders
and beanie babies
and my white bear--Cal--who Valerie gave
me.

Hamlet (the pig) was a friend
and I looked into pupsickles eyes in search
of Erik and my past.

  :   Eighth grade was here on my
window sill, sitting on the radiator,
listening to Boyz to Men, coming to the
end of a road, and wishing for my
memories to come back to me, down on
bended knees. Here at the window
watching the moon, and
Laguardia--wondering where the planes
go, and talking to the building where Gabe
lived back in eighth grade: When I felt full
and longed for people. I remembered and
lived in myself at five and seven years
old--and pretended Erik and Lily had
never changed, and imagined them to be
parts of my life.
    : Eighth grade was salvation by
telephone. It wasn't just me and Kai
talking. It was knowing who every other
seventh and eighth grader was talking to
at that very moment. We were brokers
trading secrets; trying to get good deals.
Kai told me she had gotten Maceo to tell
her who all those eight guys like without
having to sell my crush. She said she had
ways. I was eager to believe it.
     And eighth grade was ducks in the
reservoir, flying away; meeting, greeting
and never having the courage to choke up
my heart. Metaphors were easy to hide
behind. I never used a name in a poem
because I thought I had secrets. Maybe no
one ever knew how i longed to go back
with Erik on the rock that had once been
our space ship. If I hadn't changed his
name in every story I bet they would have
cared, because eighth graders are
passionate about finding out what
everyone else is thinking and feeling. Now
we're all stuck inside.
     And Aria doesn't come over so much
on Fridays anymore, when in eighth grade
we would have rented two movies and
stayed up 'till three in the morning,
talking about who was mature and who
wasn't.

     I didn't have a brush so I painted
with toilet paper, and all I painted was
rainbows, like we drew when I was six,
only rounder.

     Carol had the largest playing cards.
We took up the whole center table in the
science room playing a game of spit. On a
couple Fridays we tried to get a hearts
game together, and Erik came twice and
that was the closest we've come in the last
four years.
     Gabe was closer, and he let me in
more, but I couldn't fathom his problems.
I tried, though. The space between us was
small, but I couldn't bridge it. He never
loved baseball enough. I wonder if he still
plays.
     Eighth grade was taking my bows
and looking out at all their smiling faces
one last time. It was figuring out what I
would write in so many year books. I
couldn't imagine a future. I didn't want to
forget. I wanted my first 13 years to be the
only ones that would ever matter. I
wanted control.
     I sat between Sean and Giuli at
graduation, and I loved them so much.
And I clung to knowing where everyone
would sit, knowing who came into our
class first and last. Knowing when their
birthdays are. Sean 4-4-81. Giuli 10-1-
81. Marcus 2-16. Erik 12-23, and Kim
used to eat gum off the sidewalk before
any of us knew her, or so the story goes.

     I wanted my last dance to be with
Gabe, but he left. Erik wouldn't dance
with me, but Perri would. Perri was
forever, and I don't remember what I wrote
in his yearbook.

     So I'm sitting here in eighth grade,
but I've yet to see one airplne take
flight--and I think that as I was sitting
here the moon moved--or was it the
earth?


My Blood is the Blood of My Brethren

The cold cold:
dead mouse lying in white white snow.
That's what cold is,
nothing like an ice cube in your mouth,
or shot sleeves, 15 degrees outside.
Cold, like a dead mouse on ice.

You are your stomach, might as well be.
The ocean is your smorgasbord.
Feast of suppers, dinner of feasts,
diffusion and osmosis,
you never taste your food.

Meghan rose up.
and floats upon the ocean,
the surface of consciousness

She called to the sands:
     "Sands, what is my home?" and the sands said:      "I am still your home. I have carried
your meals on my back for many times
eternity, and I am tired."
     "Then what can I do," Meghan asked,
"to relieve your many grains?"
     "The sky has pressed your back
against mine for these eternities we have
shared. You are free and rising, but your feast
of suppers holds me hostage still. You must
talk to the sky."

Meghan looked up.
     "Sky, why must the sands bear the
weight of my food?"
     "Meghan," answered the sky, "the sands
are saturated with the blood of your fallen
brothers and sisters. The sands carry your
food in a bath of their tears. Their thoughts
lead them to the ocean, and now you rise.

"Open your belly, your body, your whole.
You must sink to find the blood,
And take the blood within you,
and know warmth,
and feel the sadness of tears."

Meghan did.
and Meghan rose up.
     "Sands?" Meghan called. Silence
echoed on the open sea, and Meghan, who was
warm, had no home.


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