Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Tuesday, June 30, 2009: On the Street…Monotone, Paris

Shadow Puppets

Turn your fringe of four fingers horizontally,
Thumb bent in. Divide this in half, by stretching

The ring finger and pinky downwards. This is
The lower jaw of your creature, be it dog,

Alligator, stork.

Allow the light to sift through your digits,
And admire the charcoal profile that emerges

On the wall or tabletop, your stage. It can
Talk, eat, breathe; it only needs an inch.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Monday, June 29, 2009: On the Street…After the Show, Paris

How to Handle the Loveliness of Young Men

Especially if their looks tip toward prettiness—
Hair in a halo of curls, petal-smooth cheek,
Slim, pale wrists

Feel free to dip your words in the common dialect
of loveliness: angels, flowers,

Turn toward the person to your left and remark
How beautiful he is, or use
The word striking

For here, in the shaky subway car, amongst the crowds
And murky newspapers, his
Looks are agonizing

Friday, June 26, 2009

Friday, June 26, 2009: On the Street…Trench Tie, Milano

The Rules

King me, she said gleefully.
The clatter of checker on top of checker,
Her delight in playing by the rules
And winning. That’s what I remember.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Wednesday, June 25, 2008: On the Street…Via Tortona, Milano


A fastening of innocence,
For children or the elderly.
A flap of teeth slapped against
Its fuzzy shadow. Simplicity

Defines Velcro: apart, together.
No allure of the button that ducks
Its opening without the wearer’s
Consent. Buttons get unstuck,

Noiselessly. Zippers announce their closure
Depending on the force applied—
A slide whistle. Metallic, secure,
Zippers catch fabric, are pried

Apart and broken, permanently.
Velcro is affixed to itself like a Band-aid.
By the time it weakens and grips loosely,
The clothing has been outgrown or mislaid.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Wednesday, June 24, 2009: On the Street…Nicole, Berlin

What’s Between

There are two little girls on the sidewalk.
They are tearing at what’s between
The squares of cement. Their fists
Clamp bouquets of grass, shredded weeds,
The occasional limp clover or dandelion.
Somewhere, a lawn is being mowed.
A plane dawdles overhead, the size of a dragonfly.
Their drones are indistinguishable.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Tuesday, June 23, 2009: On the Street….Simone at Sunset, Florence

Index finger, named for its ability
To peruse, to slink amongst rows of type
As a cat pads through a flowerbed.
Also known as the pointer finger, it can
Indicate a thief, a suitable area
For a picnic, a direction in which to walk
Or drive. Also, trigger finger
For its skill in recoiling, hooking and pulling.
It can represent the number one
Or victory when raised alone.
When wagged from side to side, windshield
Wiper-like, it shames, prevents.
With it raised against your closed lips,
You might be mistaken for a stern librarian
Extinguishing noise like a snuffer blots
A flame. But I know your index finger,
Braced against your mouth is a tool for thought,
An instrument for recalling, locating.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Friday, June 19, 2009: On the Street…Stripes & Squares, Florence

In the theatre, before Giselle,
the girl stares up at the heavy chandelier,
wonders, aghast, what if it fell,
if she stood and ran, would she slip on her souvenir

program, would she be crushed against
the doors leading to the lobby, between
tuxedos, satin gowns, fur, condensed,
trapped, coins in a slot machine.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Thursday, June 18, 2009: On the Street…The High School Student, Florence

Cruising along 670 West in my first car,
My parents’ maroon Pontiac that we called “the new
Car” in ’92, I’m wondering where
I’ll live. Maybe on the East Coast, Maine,
Perhaps (I’d researched that state in fifth grade,
State bird: the chickadee). I’m seventeen,
It’s spring, and all decisions resonate
With magnitude, maybe for the first time, at least
In my understanding. The Wonder Bread factory
Is dumping its sweet, dusty smell all over
The highway like pheromones, pollen.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Wednesday June 17, 2009: On the Street…Man Stripe, Florence

Basic human locomotion is a machine
That operates best without thinking, deliberation.
The moment you think, toe, foot, ankle, knee
You’ll stumble, I know that I have.
Knee into asphalt, wrist striking pavement,
A tumble within my body divides me into shapes,
Turns me into Colorforms, a Picasso.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Tuesday, June 16, 2009: On the Street…Floral Beauty, Governor’s Island


We walked through the woods, me thinking about the difference
Between the words forest and woods, you talking about the emu
Feather you found on that farm in college.

At first, I thought it was a trampled fern, and when I picked it up
And shook off the dust, I saw it was a dark feather. Tan and

Brown, like a reed. The sun made leopard print of our arms,

And I said If we lived in the forest, we’d have to evolve, our skin
Might grow spots
. We were quiet for a while after that, not in
Any meaningful way, just a space

That sprung up in our talking like the thick beams of light that
Sometimes pierce the dense woods, like someone used a
Hole-puncher on the tangled foliage overhead.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Monday, June 15, 2009: On the Street…Seventh Ave. & 23rd St, NYC


So much of city life depends upon
An ability to overlook,

To look past the unmentionables:
The tarry spots of gum

On the cement, so near to one’s toes;
Sirens and yelping brakes,

Two versions of mechanical weeping;
A man curled like a caterpillar

In his sleeping bag, coat over garbage
For a pillow; the near

Death experiences of cyclists at which
They barely flinch.

Learn to distance yourself with, say,
A sweetened coffee

That you swirl in your hand like a cocktail,
An iPod to redesignate

Background noise, and look out on all of it
Your kingdom, your village.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Thursday, June 11, 2009: On the Street…The Starlet, Governor’s Island

After an hour in the sun, her freckles bloomed,
Miniature beige and brown blossoms across her arm,
Shoulder, bridge of the nose. I think I’m burnt,
She sighed, fanning herself with an unpaid parking ticket.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Wednesday, June 10, 2009: On the Street…The Sheltering Sky, Governor’s Island

Our Town

Summer evenings, our town transformed into an Edward Hopper
Landscape, veiled with stillness and failing yellow sun.
Shadows spilled from suburban architecture like gasoline,
Slippery, iridescent. Girls propped themselves
Against window ledges, porch railings, the tenuous boundaries
That separate inside from out. Longing sprawled everywhere
In those days, in my recollection of those days.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Monday, June 8, 2009: On the Street…Sunday in the Park, Governor’s Island


A plaque in the middle of the park
Tells us how the cottage-sized boulder got there,
In the center of a flat field, bordered
On three sides by black-green trees.
A glacier had consumed the rock
And dragged it along the earth during
Its descent. The glacier’s remains,
Its bones, its boulder still stands,
Shivering in the sun, a vulnerable creature
Stripped of shelter or shell.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Friday, June 05, 2009: On the Street…S. Portland Street, Brooklyn

At five thirty on a Wednesday night, the look on all
Our faces signifies concentration.
We match. We look related with our furrowed
Brows, clamped mouths. I walk six blocks
To the bus, clenching my jaw all the while,
And wilt into the vinyl seat, my focus
Dispersing into the air like scattered light.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Thursday, June 04, 2009: On the Street….Blue Byrne, Brooklyn

How to Remove a Spider Web

You’ll need a broom handle, or plastic ruler—
Something to function as an extension of your arm.
Do not, under any circumstances, use your fingers.
The web will cling and stick, and even after soap
And terrycloth, even the next day, your fingertips
Feel glazed and gummy, and you won’t remember
Why. In the same way that worry can approach
And creep over your heart, dragging a net of malaise
With no discernable origin or pattern.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Wednesday, June 3, 2009: On the Street….Moving Images, NYC

The rules of traffic are arbitrary,
And arbitrated by machines, lines, and lamps.
I wince at the cyclist hurtling along the narrow channel
Between wheezing, lurching vehicles.
When you enter your car, you become it.
That’s how we function on a road crammed full
Of metal and glass moving as if of its own volition.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Tuesday, June 2, 2009: On the Street…Fort Greene, Brooklyn


A broken wristwatch becomes a bracelet.
I prefer it that way,

For numbers to become decorations,
Illustrations, squiggles.

When time’s arms stretched and yawned
From a sundial's center,

How long did it take for someone to shudder
At the lateness of

The hour, the momentum and strength of shadows
Running the length of their leashes.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Monday, June 01, 2009: On the Street…Print Dress, Sydney


You showed me your grandmother’s ring—
A poison ring, you called it—that could hold a capsule
Of cyanide in it. But your grandmother used it
To hold a seed pearl from the strand that snapped
On her honeymoon. She’d knelt on the blue carpet
Of the hotel in Cape Cod, praying it wasn’t an omen,
Plucking the ashen beads from the navy fiber,
Cupping them in her palm (against her lifeline)
like rainwater, miniature hail, fine snow.
The Storialist. All rights reserved. © Maira Gall.