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Extended Free Verse to Commemorate My 25th Year


300 dollars to my name And my most expensive clothing items on And probably nothing left when I return home from My celebratory trip to the East Coast. My editor tells me I keep writing about the passage of time— Questions about time, Conversations about time, Fruit ripening and rotting—time. Thousands of dollars coming and going—time. Nothing to my name by the 25th year. Nothing except my pride, Everything my pride means to me—my dignity, my hair, My Polaroid pictures, Scans of letters, The trust of my friends, The bodies of my bed sometimes. Nothing to my name except The smiles of everyone I love, Text messages with my sister, Proving a ton of statistics wrong... I have just finished reading my own writing for the fiftieth time Because I think no one will like it. I must have forgotten the way they lean in Without a whisper... About three years ago, I penned an entry to my writer friends To convey hope that I'd find a way to believe in myself for the rest of my life. That same year, I moved houses And screamed bigger than I am tall. The micro-transactions of self-love from that time Stacked up to nudge me across the southwestern border of Nevada. Now, I have just watched the sun set in Los Angeles for the last time As a poor and sad 24-year-old. All my old money will belong to New England by the end of this trip, And new money will appear to take its place... Time is passing. The planet is getting hotter. I am becoming less cold. Certain things are thawing me out Like the prospect of applying myself to change And the observation of my own enhanced vulnerability. My heart is now open... I am not speaking this poem in a tone of fear or melancholy. My posture at this moment is quite optimistic. I feel happy and accomplished. I am not yearning. Many projects I've begun remain in progress, but I personally feel complete... The average color of my world shifts on the bus from the Upper West Side to Baltimore. Uninterrupted land begins to last longer in the windows. My breathing becomes more diaphragmatic. This is the first birthday where I feel calm. For the moment, it feels that I've never paid the price to be at peace Donations probably who knows but If there was ever a cost, I am struggling right now to perceive it... Leisurely strolling through Central Park With a goal to meander our way to catch the M3 bus to 23rd Street I implore Andrea ask are you a writer they say no That's not true from what I know I implore again do you use writing as a tool in your life they say Yes. ... I make a big ticket item of going to The Met Because it appears so frequently in the beat poems that encouraged me to write. I posture myself to blink a penny in every fountain on the walk there, But I am too frigid to do the hand movements, And plus, I am not walking alone. Roundabout a week ago I was in statuary, too Actually solidly seven days ago on Sunday I was inside The Getty Staring deeply into Etruscan eyes. I understand how the beat poets could have found it pointless. Now, I am at The Met questioning statuary again. All I see are the faces of people I know And acknowledgement that I belong to them... Friday, I spread love by giving a solemn stranger a pricey slice of coffee cake From Lamill Cafe up the street. I was trying to be precious with my money But I was trying even more preciously to be the person I believe myself to be. By the following Friday, he biked two neighborhoods to watch me read poetry in my home. And by that following week, we were friends running into other friends... On the C Train to 72nd Street, west of Central Park, A father tells his young child that he loves him. The child refuses daringly, teases but what if I don't want you to love me The father responds with little pause I can't do that! I just love you too much! Our section of the boxcar giggles with this pocket-sized family. Moments later, a mother endearingly explains the stop system To her antsy children. I am grinning toothy underneath my mask. I cannot believe how much love the human body can carry. We emerge from the dim and moist subway station Through a bloated canal—a staircase full of yuppies— Into a remarkably warmer Manhattan (Having been bitten by the good morning in Brooklyn). Sunlight finds a way to us through the grid of skyscrapers. I rub my young eyes at the lambent day, And I am nearly crying. Cut me loose. I am not a good enough writer to create a passage of love More powerful Than answering an arbitrary challenge to cease With the promise to love even more... Good poetry does not force life to kneel in its wake. Poetry bows down to the nuance of life And signals the writer's surrender to indiscretion. Poetry happens like life happens— By happening. Poetry is the one who kneels... I bum a cigarette on the way to retrieve the neighbor's guitar. I am not hotboxing truculence. In fact, I am letting everyone in. They each get pieces of me Seemingly pulled and distributed from a bottomless bag Like the fish and the bread of God. I strum a steely E major. A man pushing a stray cart with all his belongings says oh man a guitar, I'ma get me one of those. If this guitar was not borrowed, I would have immediately given it to him... Alex and I chat in the morning about how easy it is to give love; How it is much easier than we let ourselves believe it to be. As we are chatting, I draw the blinds intuitively, sensing Alex's desire for sunlight. Alex silently places half of his peeled tangerine on my part of the desk. They say that when we give love, we sacrifice very little because If the palm stays open, We are in the perfect position to receive...


Because of my lack of foresight,

I neglect to arrange a ride home from the cluster of LAX.

In all truthfulness, I am rather alone out here

So I am pleased to know that

The stranger-turned-friend I gave my coffee cake to

Was happy to pick me up.


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