Friday, May 29, 2009

Friday, May 30, 2008: On the Street…English Rose of Brooklyn, London

For those of you who haven’t seen Cabaret

Out of context, the song Cabaret is all
Show biz and glitter, stage lights and brass. Dolled
Up like a clown, menacing and manic.
Its swagger lets us forget: it’s a gigantic
Performance. Listen to this: “From cradle to tomb
Isn’t that long a stay.” She’s consumed
By hedonism, and urging us to become
Performers—to drink, to dance, to smile, old chum.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Thursday, May 28, 2009: On the Street…Write On!, Milano

Balcony and fire escape are equally romantic:
One a deck for declaring devotion,
The other a ladder for fleeing flame
Or lover. Each is an eye fringed with
Wrought iron, an escape route, a treacherous
Way to climb back in.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Wednesday, May 27, 2009: On the Street….The Dancer, Melbourne

A sleeve, a cuff, a collar or cut neckline:
Edges, limits, ending punctuation:
A stop, a pause, the expectation

That we must cover ourselves, yes,
But that the way the garments end
Or begin draws the eye; we see

The shape of apparel because
It allows us to divide body parts
Into parts: hems, seams, darts.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Tuesday, May 26, 2009: On the Street….Shark Pants, Sydney

Oh the shark has pretty teeth, dear,
And he shows them pearly white.

Through song and story, teeth transform,
Stand in for jewelry, for instruments of power.
A snarl reveals a flash of ivory incisors,
A threat, weaponry. In the mouth, teeth
Shine like baubles or knives, attract or repel.
But extracted from the jaw, lying helplessly
In boxes like pebbles, teeth summon visions
Of shattered bones, brittle calcium cousins.
And bones, we know, mean both growth
And decay, buried in flesh and earth.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Thursday, May 21, 2009: On the Street….Clinton St., Lower East Side

When did I, or you, last call handwriting “penmanship”?
Inkwells affixed to desks have been wrenched off,
Melted into ashtrays or windshields. Cursive squirms. My print
Is wobbly and childish. The certainty of type
Leaps from page to eye. Its neat stasis, steady lines
Invite us in, hold our hands, and let us stare.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Thursday, May 21, 2009: On the Street….Vintage in Black & Red, Sydney

Fiesta

Hemingway’s publisher suggested The Sun Also Rises
As a title. A Biblical nod, classical,
Heavy as boulders. The original title, Fiesta, survives
Overseas, abroad. So why the party for Europe,
(ironic but still a party) and the cumbersome sentence
Here? The sun also rises, it’s true,
Yes, but is hope the subtext? It sounds weary, defeated,
As in the sun goes up and down and up
Again and again, inevitably, additionally.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Wednesday, May 20, 2009: On the Street….Color Steps, Lower East Side

The allure of purchased coffee is this:
Someone’s hands prepared it according to your

Desires. Syrups drool into
Your cardboard cup—caramel, orange,

Hazelnut. Before I’d tasted
A hazelnut, I’d sipped its facsimile

Steeped in espresso. Someone’s eyes
Inevitably roll when the barista says expresso.

So what? And isn’t it true, that buying
Coffee is all about speed, efficiency,

Routine. Some old guys discussed
All this before: that being in time is an issue

For us humans. Coffee is
A prescription, slid across a counter, scalding.

Pleasure in fragrance, condiments,
Heat: It’s one way of slowing down.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Tuesday, May 19, 2009: On the Street….Sixth Ave., NYC

Our tastebuds learn to love strange textures
Gradually. The chilled formlessness of tomato,
For instance. Its ooze made me cringe. How easily
It yielded to the tooth, to my teeth.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Monday, May 18, 2009: On the Street....Fourth St., NYC

The emerald city sprawls in the distance,
Frightening and majestic as a lion draped
Across a hillside, his territory.
You don’t belong here, you are trespassing,
And that’s why your heart gallops as you approach
The glass and glamour, this skyline that shimmers
As a cut crystal glass holding water, light.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Friday, May 15, 2009: On the Street…Walk in the Park, Paris

All paper is symbolic.
A document, a form, a letter:
Thoughts materialized.

Trees bear paper, not
Like fruit or blossoms. Alchemy
Yields paper, as I

Understand it. Pulp
Of pulverized splinters, thick as oatmeal
Is pressed into thin leaves,

Sheets, like something woven
And tossed on a bed, skimming a body,
Sleeping or almost asleep.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Thursday, May 14, 2009: On the Street…At the Café, Paris

Why The Matrix is Appealing

To plug into the world, this café, for instance,
As if it were technology.
The chocolate croissant and coffee love you back. Their sole
Purpose is to give you pleasure.
The menu beckons should you want more. Its luster
Invites touch, your hedonistic
Gaze. When you set it down, the print and prices fade.
They are unnecessary. For you,
As are the noise and numbers of this life, this living.
Since there is no other option, I often
See hands unpocket tiny phones, unravel white
Wires, with purpose, desperation,
And talk or listen immediately, furtively.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Tuesday, May 12, 2009: On the Street…The Designed Cover Up, Sydney

Against the white of my shoulder,
The sunburn blazes, ruby and angular
As the tiles of light thrown from
A stained glass window onto
The church’s slippery carpet.
In my synagogue, Chagall’s
Famed windows hang in black
Frames. This version is a copy
By the rabbi's wife. Their careful needlepoint
shows color and shape, figures
dancing, candles, horses, the moon.
And so we choose versions when retelling:
Glass for thread, white for garnet red.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Monday, May 11, 2009: On the Street….Vintage Coat, Sydney

Superheroes, Saturday morning cartoons,
wrestlers have less enthusiasm than you.

Pow! Zam! Kerchunk! Neon orange and green
spangled get-ups, flapping capes in primary colors,

geometric, voluminous speech bubbles cannot
compete. If someone were to draw us as cartoons,

I’d be the one with sigh in her thought bubble,
twin scribbles like quotations around the heart

and eyes to indicate: flutter, flutter, flutter.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Friday, May 08, 2009: On the Street…..Winter Scarf, Summer Style, Sydney

What do I hope to find
When I stare out at my neighbors’ homes?

Their windows glow like lanterns
(blue from the t.v., yellow

From lamps or overhead bulbs).
I don’t want them to see me,

Stirred into reverie
By the way they play house: setting

The table, that woman washing
Dishes and laughing into the phone,

Concentration etched
Onto her brow. Or that boy and collie,

Racing in the front yard,
Basketball hoop like a mounted halo.

Nothing new here,
I know. But still I gaze at life

Behind glass, living
Dioramas, science projects.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Wednesday, May 6, 2009: On the Street….Color Story, Sydney

Garage Sale

If you could eat colored glass receptacles,
Appliances, CD’s, denim, this would be
A feast.

It’s appetizing. In the lawn-scented air
And glut of sunlight, these things look better, almost new.
I reach

For a picture frame and panic: Do I want this?
I want to lay on top of it all, a dragon claiming
Her hoard.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Saturday, May 5, 2007: On the Street…Sodermalm, Stockholm

I sunk into the beanbag chair, leaning
My weight into its pliable form,
Testing its give. The lava lamp glowed,
Releasing blobs of red inside
The glass torso’s window. Like jellyfish,
Like mercury, like organs, each
Particle was self-contained, stretching
And contracting. In science class
That day, I’d learned the words pseudopod,
Cytoplasm, vacuole.
Amoeba: tiny, flabby one-celled
Organism, spread like a cracked
Egg over the textbook’s slippery pages,
But when I pressed my eye against
The microscope’s porthole, I saw only
My spidery eyelashes.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Monday, May 4, 2009: On the Street….Bondi Beach, Sydney

Bond Girl

Slick your shock of locks into a thick, high tail
That’s aerodynamic, water resistant, and don
A belted swimsuit. Another option is to gather
Your curls and let them drip over one eye,
A partial disguise. A satin gown goes best
With your hair let down, preferably backless
Or with slit so that more skin shows than
Is veiled. Will you be a villain, a spy, the lover
Of an enemy, or just that girl who has got it
In her blood: getaway driver, scuba expert,
Tango instructor? Either way, be ready for him,
For him to reveal and name you.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Friday, May 1, 2009: On the Street….Sydney Winter, Sydney

The Alley

Between buildings, gathering garbage and weeds,
The alley provides passage, a shortcut that leads

To sunlight, glistening cars, front doors.
The alley’s dim, full of things to ignore:

Dented, wet cardboard, plastic bags
Swollen like demon balloons, scraps and rags

And those that live in it. Dickens would feel at home
In the soot and trash. The smell of what we’ve thrown

Away offends us, but we tolerate
The stink because we’re only on our way,

Passing through. Walk swiftly, and join
the pedestrian public, safe as the faces of coins.
The Storialist. All rights reserved. © Maira Gall.