Friday, December 19, 2008

Friday, December 19, 2008: On the Street…Gloves in the Chest Pocket Have Jumped the Pond, NYC

Mittens render fingers into fins or paws
That clumsily fumble with car doors, zippers, purses.

Easily dropped and stomped into snow,
Mittens wander from their owners and partners.

The word itself is cute and helpless,
A furry creature to be rescued from a tree.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Thursday, December 18, 2008: On the Street....Wing Collar Shirt, Soho


When it was announced that the ninth grade dance would be
Semi-formal, one girl shrieked, Oh, goody
Goody! She spoke for those who wanted satin,
Rhinestones. In dress shops they asked, Do I look fat in
This? To choruses of No from moms
And friends. The photos they took were previews of proms
And weddings—couples arm in arm in yards,
On porches. The boys (in sneakers) opened back doors of cars
And parents chauffeured the duos to decorated gyms
Where songs by Rihanna and Britney echoed in the rafters, like hymns.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Wednesday, December 17, 2008: On the Street…Da Hair, Moscow

In college French, I remember a boy with a coal-black Mohawk
Like giant eyelashes combed thick with mascara

He told me that getting into cars was tricky, and involved
Leaning his head against his own shoulder, like a shy parrot

Sleeping proved equally difficult—he kept his head perfectly
Still, cheek to pillow, like a profile imprinted on a coin

His pale face and dark hair like an unblinking eye in the dark,
The stiff and straight lashes indicating shock or surprise

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Tuesday, December 16, 2008: On the Street…LaFayette St., NYC

In December, shadows drag behind us
like deflated black balloons tied to our ankles.

Silhouettes lag and linger, sag against curb
And metal grate. As I trudge up LaFayette

To your new apartment building, I will the snow
To fall, to fall, to fall.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Monday, December 15, 2008: On the Street…Bowery, New York

He stole his swagger and lean,
his cigarette’s jaunty angle
from (who else?) James Dean.

Just a skinny teen
until he discovered the belt buckle
and looped it through his dad’s jeans.

The buckle’s tarnished sheen
lent him—what? Not age or danger,
but something in between.

Friday, December 12, 2008

December 12, 2008: On the Street….The Painter, Moscow

The painter thought about how red
is the imagination’s default color
of cars (Hondas and convertibles)
of lipstick, of roses,
of mailboxes and bandanas.

Blues, too, are almost unusable.
He didn’t want some numskull
gushing about his blue phase
or dark tonality.

Better to muddy his colors,
he’s sure, thinking of that color preference test
in which three-fourths of those who chose brown
were soldiers during World War Two.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Thursday, December 11, 2009: On the Street…Those Shoes, NYC

New shoes screech,

leave behind black, gummy streaks.

These old shoes creak

and crack, settling around my feet.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Wednesday, December 10, 2009: On the Street….Tan & Silver, Milano

The taste of the envelope lingered against my teeth
all morning: chemical, dry, slightly sweet.

My words were sticky, flavored with that glue.
I can’t recall what my letter told you, exactly,

just the way the black ink of certain consonants and
punctuation marks bled through the back of the paper,

proof of my hand’s varying pressure, of my lack
of complete control over each form of my voice.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Tuesday, December 9, 2008: On the Street…Cotton, Cashmere & Nylon, NYC

The teenage sensibility of dressing, at all times, to be seen
(because you never know who you’ll see at the gas station

cineplex, grocery store) is slowly replaced by the collegiate ease
of sweatpants and hooded sweatshirts, perhaps emblazoned

with a logo or mascot, in colours that cushion the eyes
(grey, navy, soft black). The other night, out for dinner,

Most men were in sweatshirts, women in black stretch pants
(not sweatpants, but yoga pants). We are too tired

For the structure of three-piece suits or wool or hats,
And sigh into clothes that stretch and hold us close.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Monday, December 8, 2008: On the Street…Flea Market Finds, NYC

The brick apartment building is shedding.
The patchwork reds and browns
crumble silently, steadily.
The bricks leave dustings of red at their bases
where the blacktop meets the foundation.

Not unlike how we deposit bits of our bodies
throughout our rooms and streets
(slivers of nail, long threads of hair),

and scarier, less visible pieces of evidence
that we identify only as dust or ash or dirt.
We scatter pieces of our surfaces on other surfaces
not unlike a trail of breadcrumbs leading to safety.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

100 postings

I just wanted to thank all of my readers for the support and is my 100th poem (below).

And thanks, of course, to the Sartorialist, whose lens I borrow and adjust, fracture, and refocus.

Thursday, December 4, 2008: On the Street….Milan, Italy

Concern: in the eyebrows, smooth to jagged
(tree limbs, December)

Disappointment: in the voice, a small catch
(guitar string, buzz)

Purpose: in the legs, the carriage, level, constant
(bicycle wheel, forward)

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

December 3, 2008: On the Street….Seventh Ave., NYC

She bares her arms to the December air,
Thinks, Take that, winter.
Tracy is in no mood to accommodate,
And refuses to shiver.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Monday, December 1, 2008: On the Street….Aya 2, NYC

In Yellow Springs, Ohio,
I went into a secondhand shop
And saw a row of Doc Martens

They’d been painted with flowers
And with flames, with names
And diamonds and stars

A charm bracelet for tough girls,
Like the one working in this store
Who displayed her tattoos

Like merit badges or medals,
Proud, defiant, and just a little
Desire for recognition

Friday, November 28, 2008

Thursday, November 30, 2006: On The Street…The Colorist, Soho

In Mary Poppins, a pastel drawing on the cement
Transports children and nanny and chimney sweep
From filthy street to pastoral paradise

Later, the sidewalk’s scene is washed away in rainwater
And traffic, a new type of shallow erosion
In which an applied surface is stripped away

Like a name written in sand, your own, perhaps,
That weathers with one to three waves, the letters blurring
Into lines, then creases, then only ocean-combed sand

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Wednesday, November 26, 2008: On the Street…Continuing Style, Paris

Women’s heels strike the marble.
The sounds of these targeted attacks
ricochet through space, naming
the architecture as sacred:
museum, monument, church,
theatre, court. The sharp steps
(equal parts horseshoe clip-clop,
ring dropped onto glass counter,
billiard ball, whip crack)
echo past the crowds, toward
ceilings and high corners,
mapping angles in the dark
like the sonar siren of bats.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

November 26, 2008: On the Street…Those Shoes, Milan

Joe wears pajamas out of context,
That is, not in bed,
Not while sleeping.

He likes when comfort overrides function.
Slipping one hand
Into a pocket,

He discovers that it’s sewn shut,
Is just a slash
With a flap.

In bed, he wears a flannel robe.
No buttons to do up,
No zipper or snaps.

With the cloth belt snug but not tight,
Joe thinks of it
As his cocoon.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Tuesday, November 25, 2008: On the Street…Greyt, Milan

Who can teach me to crochet
So that I remember how to loop and tug the yarn?
I know machines can produce crafts,
Precise and even, textured in rows and knots,
Edges neat as puzzle borders.

I’ve been taught before,
And produced a simple, narrow chain of earth-colored wool.
Now even those moves are lost.
My hands have no memory.
The needles wait in the bottom drawer, arms crossed, patient.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Thursday, November 20, 2008: On the Street…Seen in Milan

Tropical Trends

A store that sold incense and green-glazed
ceramic turtles and leaves to hold it
while it burned

Silver rings and bangles, burnished,
Made to look old and set with
Turquoise or amethyst

Clothing made from hemp or burlap,
Rough and weird in my
Eleven year old eyes

That year, on my birthday, one of my friends
Bought me a gift from Tropical Trends:
Mexican jumping beans

And a pouch with a miniature family inside
Worry Dolls, with garb of thread
And black sand for hair

The jumping beans were scary, clicking inside the package
While we ate cake in the dining room
I almost flushed them

Down the toilet, but thought I might create
A new breed of sewer moth,
Giant, mutant, dangerous

I know the beans only jumped because the worm
Inside wanted to get out
And they deserved better

Than the sewage system, so my dad and I
Poured them in a bowl
Beneath a lamp

Our makeshift incubator seemed to be working
The beans clinked appreciatively
Ice cubes in a glass

But one day they all stopped moving
And laid there like pebbles
Or normal beans

I can’t remember what we did with them
Maybe the trash, in a paper towel
Or buried like seeds

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Thursday, November 20, 2008: At Prada, Milano

Knee to sidewalk, palm to street,
overturned coffee leaking brown liquid, like fuel.
And underneath, reddened skin,
a bit of blood,
and a new bruise forming from the thumbprint of the curb,
an angry, flame blue.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Wednesday, November 19, 2008: What I Love About Carine


Two women smile brightly, lean toward eachother
simultaneously, surprisingly close. One woman’s arm
is extended, stiff as machinery. She is taking a picture
of herself and the other woman, and knows the exact angle
needed to fit the two faces in the image’s center.
Sell-ka, sell-ka, the Korean students scream
and their arms shoot out to take their own portraits.
What’s sell-ka? I ask them. Self-camera, one explains,
Konglish. They pose for invisible photographers,
beaming up with tilted faces at their own hands.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Tuesday, November 18, 2008: GQ Preview--Boots & Suits, NYC


After so many days of rain,
I flinch in the early light.

I adapt to my surroundings
Like any helpless creature.

This is how myths are made,
The human reaction to weather,

To change. Around the corner,
Unseen monsters scheme.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Monday, November 17, 2008: The Gentleman Biker, Milan

In transportation, speed directly correlates
To civility and grace. The faster the pace,
The fewer breaths I take, the more removed I am
From the morning crowds (or individuals,
If I am on foot). The other day, I saw
A man in a suit standing upright, pitched forward
And whirring stiffly like a podium in motion.
Nice segueway, a woman called, and darted off the curb.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Friday, November 14, 2008: Cement Barbells, Rio

“The woods decay, the woods decay and fall.”
-Tennyson, “Tithonus”

Leaves, your last flare of red
blazes like an angry flame,
a dying star.

The fall is full of steady flame.
The wind blows out the red trees,
a birthday candle.

Metal imitates the fall
by oxidizing, rusting slowly.
An infection

Neither fiery nor fierce,
rust is a virus of time, of dust,
an age spot.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Wednesday, November 12, 2008: On the Street…Anger, NYC

Peter Pan chased his shadow into the little girl’s room,
Wanted her to sew the dusky feet onto his feet.
Look—she’s taking up her thread and needle.

On stage, the shadow’s made from netting.
Sheer black pantyhose, purchased cheaply
Or taken from an actor’s drawer at home.

But who out there can tell me why
The silhouette of a boy who cannot bear to age
Is trimmed from women’s flimsy underpinnings.

Or do I have the question wrong,
Should I ask why ladies coat their legs with filmy shadows,
Like fountain pens dipped into inkwells.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Wednesday, November 12, 2008: On the Street…Carnival Costume, Rio


My friend had this green bird
And it squeaked like a creaky hinge
All night during slumber parties

There was a cloth over its cage
So that the bird would know
That it was night time

And when I crept past it
Through the unfamiliar house
Past the kitchen, toward the bathroom

I wondered if inside
The bird was talking in his sleep
Or wide awake and waiting

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Monday, Novemeber 10, 2008: The Girl, The Boy, and Doggie from Ipanema, Rio

Some roads demand bare feet.
They long to feel the pressure of your steps,
to greet your heels and toes with heat.
Usually, these roads are near the beach.
And once you step from stone to sand,
you know that surfaces are like water,
that they change form.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Friday, November 7, 2008: At Carlos Miele, Rio

The crowd swiveled toward her as she took her seat
Like wedding guests turn to face a bride

I’ve been told that flowers obey the same rule
And stretch their necks toward light

But in botany or astronomy or ceremony
There is distance between the puller and pulled

An invisible rope straining through air like heat
from unseen hand to unseen hand

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Wednesday, November 6, 2008: Rio!!


Our movement through the world is written on the body,
my friend (the former dancer) explained.
She gestured to her legs, the muscles below her knees
swelling like the throats of singing bullfrogs.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Wednesday, November 05, 2008: Big Thanks to Petite Mirochka

Scripted names, scrolled in gold
or etched onto metal plates
like dog tags (on soldiers or dogs)

trimmed photos of babies
enclosed in clamlike lockets

the geometry of religion,
emblems, tokens, charms, rings
too small for the finger

dangling against collarbone
and chest, finding the
valleys of our breath.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Tuesday, November 4, 2008: On the Street...Pins on Vintage, NYC


My great Grandfather used to spin the story
when I was four. He'd had his head read
as a teen, discovered he was meant
to be a navigator, to translate the sea.
He told me as he tucked me into bed,
Just between us--you got my temperament.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Monday, November 3, 2008: On the Street...Brothers, NYC

Primary colours evoke playtime.
Building block, crayon hues
to stain fingers and smudge walls.

Plastic toys, tiny shaped erasers,
pots of dried up red and blue--
these all share a smell:
vaguely sweet and powdery,
the scent that clings
to the slept-on pillow's face.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Thursday, November 8, 2007: Yellow & Cream...Paris

Children hurried by, skeleton suits and tulle and superhero garb
winking out from between the wool coats and scarves, their layers
of costume competing to be seen.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Thursday, October 30, 2008: On the Street...The Sculptor, Moscow

Her hands worked best from 3 to 4 AM,
some worldly clock sounded in her brain
and roused her from the darkness of her bed.
The white comforter curled into the corner
like a pale, downy dog, waiting.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Wednesday, October 29, 2008: On the Street...The Graphic Designer, Moscow

When I saw Anna on the street,
(in the street? Prepositions
always do-see-do for me)
she stood coatless outside her office.
She called it a cigarette break,
though she’d never been a smoker.
Where’s your coat, I asked in passing.
Upstairs, she shrugged, hands clutching
elbows in a mock hug.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

October 28, 2008: On the Street...Fur & Sweatshirts, Moscow

What can be said to her
to stop her from stealing my clothes?
The sweatpants and t-shirts
she hoards from my drawers don’t
return. Worse, I swear Grandma Trudy’s fur
(how did she find it, stuffed into a trunk
in the basement next to boxes of VHS tapes
that I haven’t watched in years?
I imagine her dark eyes shining
as she stroked the cape with tenderness)
clung to her shoulders as she stole past
the bedroom and through the front door.
She leaves her dresses and jeans behind
for me, I think. Souvenirs.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Sunday, October 26, 2008: On the Street...In the Crowd

Onstage, the new actors are learning not to walk,
but to perform walking.
From stage left to stage right, say
(and remember that all stage directions
are from the actor’s perspective,
proof that process is art’s compass).

Pick a point across from you.
Make your selection deliberate:
There, I want to go there,
And move. Real movement, urgent and full of purpose,
of intention.
And if you are still, create a reason to stand:
defiance, terror, quicksand.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Thursday, October 23, 2008: On the Street...West 18th St., NYC

No mere pocket square,
the peacock feather leaned from his jacket,
elbows-over-balcony style.
Its cobalt eye catches mine,
and with fringe held high,
dares me to blink.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Wednesday, October 22, 2008: On the Street...Tailored Tee, Paris

Somewhere nearby, someone is doing the laundry.
I smell the powder and suds on the wind.
All the clotheslines have vanished,
but they’ve left a phantom fragrance.
It’s up to you to hear the clothes flapping
like a white sail, a rug being shaken over a balcony,
a paintbrush’s first contact with a wall,
the muffled thwap spattering your face
with coloured punctuation marks.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Monday, October 20, 2008: On the Street...Wrapped, Paris

I can’t leave the house without putting on my face,
Veronica used to say.
She meant her make-up. She’d grab her purple case,
unpack a dazzling array
of powders, vials, lotions. Red and pink
and green were lurking just
beneath the lids, like bloodshot eyes. Our sink
was coated in flesh-coloured dust.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Thursday, October 16, 2008: On the Street....Photographer Style, NYC

The difference between
shirt and skirt:
h or k.
Change which you say
and the garment inverts.
Sounds spin like pictures
on a slot machine.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Tuesday, October 14, 2008: On the Street...Little Star, Paris

Here’s my problem: for as long as I can remember,
I’ve ended up in other people’s photographs.
The frames of strangers. I know because it happens
Biweekly—I walk into a new friend’s apartment,
And in her family portrait with Mickey Mouse,
There I am, vanilla ice cream cone in hand,
Walking toward a trash can. In a gallery
Last week, an exhibit of 90’s images
In New York caught me crouching in the street
Outside the elementary school. Or now, that couple
Kissing on that bench, his arm extended
And pointed toward the kiss—I tell you, I’m in the shot.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Tuesday, October 14, 2008: On the Street....Shoulders, Paris

The alien beauty of a six-foot girl
with shoulders, clavicle, hipbones sharp
and scary-angled as metal hangers—
Her looming beauty belongs on a stage in a tent.
She is meant to be gawked at and photographed.
But in daylight, amongst the other humans,
she is a fugitive, foreign, dangerous.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Monday, October 13, 2008: On the Street....Adorable, Milano

Knowing, private, intimate—
Call it what you like.
The language in lovers’ eyes
brews, percolates.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Friday, October 10, 2008: On the Street....In the Air, NYC & Paris

No matter the year here,
the vision of the future
is again & again
shine and curved surface:
a disco ball world
of airborne traffic patterns
and Tinman, robo-garb.
’10, ’29.
With the click of a Rubik’s Cube,
time shifts into place
and still cars crawl on the ground.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Thursday, October 9, 2008: On the Street.....Via Bagutta, Milano

When hair grows in grey or white,
it hasn’t transformed. Not quite
the way I expected: instant, an overnight
quicksilver flood. It began with a slight
shine, a halo at the scalp, and she explained
the pigment just stops, the dark ink restrained.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Monday, April 30, 2007: On the Street....The New Denim Shape, Berlin

Gulping the morning’s orange pulp,
I realize the juice is saffron yellow.

Expectations are pre-emptive,
muddling experience under their pestle.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Thursday, October 5, 2006: The Girl at Dries Van Noten

At first, I wore them to dilute the sun.
My eyes sighed, relieved by the amber stain.
Now I wear them even in the rain,
Wondering what they protect me from.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Wednesday, October 1, 2008: Before Balmain

Her feet did graze the street,
I think.
But just barely. Her verb:
Some girls are less attached
To earth,
To its anchored, heavy

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Tuesday, September 30, 2008: On the Street....Hard Angles-Soft Edges, Paris

When lost in thought, the body goes into autopilot,
capable of walking to a destination
or obeying green and red traffic lights.

Once, I drove for thirty minutes across town
before realizing my mistake—east, not west.
A psych professor told me that the eyes of someone

in deep thought can mimic REM: eyelids
twitching, blinking hurriedly, till the thinker
resurfaces, a diver coming up for air.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Monday, September 29, 2008: On the Street.....Checks & Stripes, Milano

Newsprint is impermanent,
on purpose. It is meant

to self-destruct every day.
The edges of the pages fray

even as it first unfolds.
How am I supposed to hold

the news, with its excessive wingspan?
The pages shudder in my hands

as I fumble with the sections
and their sallow, grey complexions.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Friday, September 26, 2008: On the Street....Giovanna!, Milano

She answers her mobile, and slips in and out
of visibility.

Giovanna schedules a meeting for lunch,
her voice full of numbers,

of times, addresses, sizes, prices, dates.
The street around her

vanishes. Which is why I’m sure
she didn’t see me driving

past her. Not because she doesn’t love me.
I should call her later.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Thursday, September 25, 2008: At Marni

Yes, coffee. Yes, morning in the city. Yes to yellow buildings,
yes to September.
Yes Pollyanna, yes anthem, yes embarrassment,
yes to nonsense and eye contact and vulnerability.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Wednesday, September 24, 2008: At Prada, Milano

The black cardigan has been waiting
in my drawer with folded arms.
Its black buttons shine out at me,
round and wide as dilated pupils.
When I stick my arm into its sleeve
a little hole reveals itself
with the whiteness of my forearm.
All belongings have a life
that persists when not in use;
tucked into dressers and boxes, in storage,
our clothes atrophy and wilt.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Tuesday, September 23, 2008: On the Street....Molto Benno, Milano

A Phillips screwdriver fits into a plus sign;
a regular screwdriver plugs into a minus.

That’s all I know about how things are assembled.
That, and how to use a wire hanger

to connect the pieces in the toilet tank.
In an aptitude test, I failed

the “Spatial Relations” section. But lately, I’ve been thinking,
handiness could be a learned skill.

It all comes down to positive and negative
space, to knowing when to fill a hole

and when to create one. When I look into the toolbox,
the shiny metal doesn’t seem so different

from the cone-shaped icing tips that create
their own contoured holes in reverse.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Monday, September 22, 2008: On the Street....Apple, Milano

The apple is the least sensual of all fruit:
presented to teachers,
yanked off a branch,
sliced and piled beneath pastry dough.
Wholesome. Functional.
Not a temptation, but perhaps a reminder
of vulnerability.

I marvelled at the way you peeled the apple,
the glossy red skin spiralling from the fruit
without tearing,
its colour and sheen reduced to pallor.
I asked about the soft brown spot.
A bruise, you said.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Friday, September 19, 2008: On the Street....White Dress & Feathers, NYC

Early autumn in the city. Tree limbs strain the light
into manageable portions. Vanessa receives a text
message from her sister (the bride): Picking out doves.
After the ceremony, her sister wanted to release the birds
as a symbol, asked Vanessa if she’d read some words
aloud to the guests. What are they a symbol of,
exactly? She had asked. She looks at the pigeons (gray with flecks
of black, pecking at garbage), waiting for them to take flight.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Thursday, September 18, 2008: On the Street....The Dream Team, NYC

Girls adorned in shiny beads
and cocktail dresses gather into groups
of four or five, and disperse
into urban evenings. To transform
a meal into an event:
the unspoken goal of every girls’ night.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Tuesday, September 16, 2008: On the Street....After the Storm, Chelsea

After the storm, umbrellas litter the streets
like broken, crash-landed bats.
Their silver spokes and spines poke out, exposed,
and the remaining rain
collects in their spidery forms.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Tuesday, September 16, 2008: On the Street....Sixth Avenue, NYC

Pigeon-toed: an inward, awkward stance,
seeming helpless but attracting every glance.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Monday, September 15, 2008: On the Street.....ReMix at Ralph Lauren

It’s been tough to concentrate on work
since I brought her home. Puppies demand
so much attention. Training is exactly
what you’d expect: pointed index fingers,
chewed-up slippers, daily accidents
and accomplishments. Pets point out
our need to look after something else
than ourselves. And when I say Good girl,
she hears the smile in my voice, looks up
for validation. And when I return
home, I’m eager to see her waiting for me.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Thursday, September 11, 2008: On the Street.....Sixth Avenue, NYC

Marilyn Monroe’s breed of beauty
depended on a breeze, a camera lens

to catch the windblown skirt, the slipping strap:
loveliness arranged in disarray.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Wednesday, September 10, 2008: On the Street....Bill Cunningham, NYC

The rain slicker rustles, smells like rubber
And mildew. I’m reminded of grade school,
How on rainy days I’d dread the rain coat and
Boots, the awful squeak they made on linoleum.

As we age, no one forces us to dress for weather,
To dress sensibly. Yet here I am, grateful for
The cumbersome gear that keeps me dry.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Tuesday, September 9, 2008: On the Street....W. 37th, Midtown

Barbie’s feet are permanently pointed.
At rest, her legs extend and stretch on tiptoe.
Her little heels will never touch the ground,
but she’s more flexible than you might think.
I discovered that her knees bend inward,
clicking into a Pacman-mouth angle,
composed in such a way that she implodes.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Monday, September 8, 2008: On the Street.....Bryant Park, NYC

At the cafe on Monday morning,
Emily chooses a sun-warmed chair
and tries not to play with her bracelets or hair.
Yesterday, it had been pouring.
She’d stayed in the bath till 5 P.M.
You know what they say about watched pots
and phones. And when she never got
his call, she put herself to bed,
didn’t cry, didn’t hate him.
This morning, she chose a flowered necklace
that looked like a lei. Tropical, reckless,
she drank her coffee alone, elated.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Saturday, September 6, 2008: On the Street.....Fay, NYC

Red lipstick signals an occasion,
a celebratory mood, abandon.
Women mark their mouths in red,
underlining what they’ve said
and done. Leaving scarlet crescents
on glasses, cigarettes, cheeks, like footprints.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Friday, September 5, 2008: On the Street....Streetwear, Milano

My tattoo reclaims my skin,
Loudly shouts, “These images are mine,

And so is the skin beneath.”
The only one that I regret

Is Laura’s name, scrolled in black,
Barely visible beneath the butterfly on my right arm.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Thursday, September 4, 2008: On the Street....After Mac, West Village

To Catch a Cab

Plant your feet firmly.
Assign one hand to your hip
so the other, your dominant hand
can be free to wave
but not as in hello.
Bend and release from finger to elbow,
(for inspiration, think windshield wiper,
film slate, applause meter.)

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Wednesday, September 3, 2008: Jacket-on-Shoulders, Just for Italians?

Ian’s affected by gravity
Differently than me or you.
It seems he’s inherited buoyancy.
In between steps, he becomes unglued

From the earth a split second longer
Than normal. His jacket bobs on his shoulders,
His grip on things has grown stronger
Since childhood when a breeze snatched his folder.

Lightest of all is the look
In his eyes, if he happens to catch your gaze:
Knowing, amused, like he shook
Your hand and saw your arm hair raise.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Tuesday, September 2, 2008: On the Street....High Impact Accessories

His favorite flavor of ice cream was always Neapolitan,
but he used to call it Napolean.
Stripes of flavor, ribbons of color, a vaguely historical name.

And he liked it best in a glass dish, slightly melted
(in the microwave for 14 seconds). He’d hold it up,
examining the muddied pastel puddle from the bottom.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Friday, December 15, 2006: At The Marc Jacobs 70% Off Sale

The Difference between a Line and a Crowd

A line stretches thinly, each body firmly asserting I was here first.

A slow-motion pile-up at a single point of entry.

A crowd gathers round
With nowhere to go,
Its center a vortex, a magnet
That gathers gazes and
Sucks bodies in
For the show.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Friday, August 29, 2008: On the Street.....White on White, Paris

She hovered in the doorway
her girlish white dress
transformed by the light
passing through it
revealing the garments
that were and were not

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Thursday, August 28, 2008: On the Street...Gatsby Moment, Paris

You can judge the authenticity of a pearl
by its temperature, string, and texture,
The red-haired lady at the garage sale
told me as I pulled a strand of grays

from the sparkling pile of junk in a box.
Hold a pearl in your palm, and clutch it,
clam-like. It should first be cool to the touch
and then leach heat from your skin.

Now look for the knots in the string.
Each pearl should be individually secured
by the silk. In case it should break.
I saw each tiny knot, like a seed pearl

guarding the pearl’s entrance and exit.
Last is the texture. Does it feel smooth?
I rolled it around on a finger. It did.
Well, hold it to your tooth, and gently

Scrape it up and down. How does it feel?
If it’s real, it should be grainy.
And in my mouth it felt like sand, and made
a dull sound like the distant surf.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Wednesday, August 27, 2008: Elegance (458)

Stepping through the crowd of men,
I absorb their glances, their comments,

And watch the pigeons tucked in buildings
Biting their feathers, readjusting.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Tuesday, August 26, 2008: On the Street....Taxi Taxi, Stockholm

When we were children, our mother dressed us alike.
Interchangeable t-shirts, dresses, skirts.
At thirteen, one of us put up a fight
And borrowed our father’s red flannel shirt.

Our mother smiled, but her eyes looked hurt.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Monday, August 25, 2008: On the Street.....Stockholm Smile

Fall arrives suddenly, coaxing hands into pockets.
Blouses sprout sleeves that we bunch at the elbow,

Revealing our eager wrists to the damp air.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Friday, August 22, 2008: On the Street......Ostermalm, Stockholm

If I would have caught the bus,
I’d be sitting in your kitchen,

late summer light bathing us.
But, my dear, this didn’t happen—

I heard the bus while buying bread
(which I should have done last night

but I didn’t). So, instead,
we’ll dine by artificial light.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Thursday, August 21, 2008: On the Street.....Black and White, Stockholm

What I found in the pockets of last year’s raincoat
while wearing it this morning:

Ticket stub from a movie I can’t remember

Receipt from the grocer for oranges, dated September 3, 2007

Ex-boyfriend’s blue guitar pick

Tiny bit of paper with the number 217 written on it in pencil

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Wednesday, August 20, 2008: On the Street...Joakim, Stockholm

When I asked Joakim why he only wore black,
He brought me to his closet, laughed,

Replied, There are at least ten shades
Of black. When the colour fades,

You can see the undertone.
Here’s a sweater I’ve outgrown.

The worn-out spots are all green-black.
I started sorting through a stack

Of his black pants, noting other
Shades, more bruised, darkened colours:

Olive-black, an army mud;
Reddish, brick black, like blood

That’s dried; the inky-blue of crows
And blackbirds. Brown-black; wine-black merlot.

That night, I dreamt fevered dreams
Of counting blacks and shredded seams.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Wednesday, May 30, 2007: On the Street.....NYU Student, Manhattan

White wires dangle
from pockets and ears,
twisted and tangled.

We plug ourselves in
between here and there
to accompany errands.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Sunday, July 29, 2007: On the Street.......Summer Cardigan, Soho

Throughout the day, thirteen hands adjust
the dial that controls the office climate.
The corresponding clothing negates August:
jackets, scarves, sweaters, even blankets
shield women’s shoulders from A.C.
Metropolitan air ferments,
is chilled on ice, decanted soundlessly.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Thursday, August 14, 2008: On the Street.....the Stockholm Look via Los Angeles

The laces in my shoes were unlucky.
I threw them away after Cheryl dumped me,

after tripping over them and into her,
six years ago in November.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Friday, November 30, 2007: On the Street.....Greys & Blues, New York

Rain changes sidewalks and streets into mirrors,
concrete into pyrite, mercury, graphite.
Our reflections grow out of our feet, like roots
anchoring us to our blurry shadows.

The weather’s alchemy stirs up moods,
conjures the blues.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Monday, August 11, 2008: On the Street.....Lucia Early Evening, NYC

Lucia refused to use “fabulous,”
preferring “terrific” or “charming.”
Her old-fashioned clothes are disarming
since she wears them with such earnestness.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Monday, August 11, 2008: On the Street.....Two, Paris

Before my brother the banker
Became a banker,

He told me he thought he’d move out
To the countryside.

Well, why would you go and do that?
I’d asked him, perplexed.

I don’t remember his answer,
Only his face.

And when I saw him this morning
He looked the same

As he did that day: wistful,
Tired, windblown.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Friday, August 8, 2008: On the Street...Crosby St., Manhattan

She excels at the cello
but hasn’t played in four years.

Today on the subway
at 8:37 A.M.

her fingertips tingle.
She knows she’ll leave work early,

racing home after lunch.
For hours, outside her apartment

the voice of the cello
dapples the street like sunlight.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Thursday, August 7, 2008: On the Street...Masha, Soho

Take Masha, for instance.
She cut seven inches
From her long hair
In her bathroom at home.

Or you, for that matter,
Who quit smoking last year
After a decade.

Or how bout that guy
Who was in a coma
For thirteen years
And one day woke up?

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Wednesday, August 6, 2008: On the Street... Structured Jacket and Shorts, Paris

We march to work wearing authority:
Jackets, shiny watches, folders, red pens.

Our shoes clip-clopping, signalling through sound
That we mean business. In youth, we learned about

Hard soles clacking in crescendo:
Shh...the teacher’s coming back!

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Tuesday, August 5, 2008: On the Street...Graceful Steps Paris

I studied the geometry of her frame:
Shoulder to elbow, elbow to wrist, wrist
To fingertip. She had her bones well-trained

To wrap and fold around like they were wings.
When she left for good I made a list
Of her proportions, and folded up her things.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Monday, August 4, 2008: On the Street...Young and in Paris

Underpinnings overlap with outerwear,
straps stripe their shoulders.
Laces slowly untie themselves
in the well-worn shoes of teenage girls.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Saturday, August 2, 2008: At Louis Vuitton, Paris

A tilt of the head,
A thrust forward jaw,
Thick silver chain,
Gabardine jacket.

Limbs held close to the body, crossed.
Slim slump of the shoulders.
Lacquered red lips.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Thursday, July 31, 2008: Mr. Cool

Mr. Cool’s eyes are magnified,
his glasses drawn by calligraphy pen.
His hair is dark and his brow is arched,
and he’s envied by all of his neighbours and friends.

When Mr. Cool walks, he oozes cool,
with his hands in his pockets, a hint of a slouch.
In his wallet are pictures of family members
who simply can’t fathom the way he turned out.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008: I Love Portofino

My father pauses on the dock outside his home,
his jacket crisp and pressed. His skin is creased,
the pages of a favourite book.

As I took his picture, he mumbled, God, you’ve grown,
you’re taller than your dad. The wind released
the words, replaced them with a look.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Tuesday, July 29, 2008: On the Street....Strongly Striped, London

After ending the call,
The phone is warm under my thumb.

My ear is warm with your voice.
Now what?

Monday, July 28, 2008

Monday, July 28, 2008: On the Street...Carine Roitfeld

Please don’t think me shy.
True, my hat covers my eyes

And my dress blends in
Against my evenly tanned skin.

These heels? They disappear
Below my legs (spring, last year).

Take my photograph
Again. You’ll see me smirk and laugh.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Friday, July 25, 2008: Purple Driving Mocs Are All The Rage (Picture 3)

As they age, Mr. and Mrs. Brown
look increasingly alike.

Wrinkles leak from both their eyes
(three per outer corner). They stride towards town

to do their shopping every other day
for fresh ingredients, fresh air.

The wind whips through their silvered hair
(still darker underneath). At home, they lay

in bed and stare at one another’s face.
We’re still young, he tells his wife

Or she tells him. Their mirrored life
(of twenty-six years) spins in place.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Thursday, July 24, 2008: On the Street..... Somewhere Around Hoxton, London

If only it would be enough
To sit and sip and alternate
Between the beer can and the coffee cup
And switch, like that, from drunk to wide awake.

I met a man who could consume
Twelve pints with no effects at all
Until, at last, he stood. No one’s immune
To what’s wolfed down (i.e. alcohol).

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Wednesday, July 23, 2008: Variations on a Theme (part 2), Milan

In summer, she comes undone.
The heat reworks her collar,
dampens seams, loosens curls.
For hours after they’re removed,
sunglasses bridge her face
without darkening her afternoon.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Tuesday, July 22, 2008: On the Street.....Space Age, Milan

Balance the checks,
Check the account,
Account for expenses.

Expense the red polish,
Polish the email,
Email the schedule.

Schedule the order,
Order the forms,
Form your balance.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Monday, July 21, 2008: Finally.....My Favorite Shot From London

Without a watch, I clambered down the stairs,
tucking my umbrella in the bag.
All at once, I felt the morning air
reach in. The sky already starts to sag.
They all predicted it would rain today.
I shuffle down the street to meet Alain
for scrambled eggs and toast. The alleyway
outside his place is calm, and I pretend
that I’m the only one alive in London.
I must be early. I consult my phone.
The time glows palely at me—9:01.
Instead of buzzing him, I stand alone
and lean on brick. Tugging my shirt, I hope
he loves the colour: manila envelope.

Friday, July 18, 2008: When First We Met (Part 2)

I. Two Years Ago

A dapper man,
Brown glove in hand.
His dark, smooth skin
Artfully clothed in
Olive tweed.
Right hand freed,
Grasping bills.
Slightly chilled,
You crooked your arm.
The stripey scarf
falls just so.
Your glasses glow.

II. Two Weeks Ago

Graffiti arms,
Still brown but hard,
Strained and straight.
A lanky gait
In army pants.
Aggressive stance.
A thick, dark beard.
Not stopped, you steer
Toward sun and heat
And crowded street.
All veined and lean.
Your hat acid green.
The Storialist. All rights reserved. © Maira Gall.