POEM: tonight I miss New York


tonight I miss New York

tonight I miss New York
so bad it makes my stomach hurt

I long for it like the tan stuffed dog
I had when I was a little boy

I want to take New York into my arms
pull it tight to my chest
feel the warmth against my skin

tonight I need its hard streets
under these Chinatown boots

the sound of the subway coming up
through the grate in the sidewalk
where the snow doesn’t stick

tonight all I want is to go back there
to remember how the parts of me that stick out
and the parts of me that curve in
fit perfectly into its wild beautiful jigsaw

tonight I want to flee these fucking fields
run from these goddamn hills
back where the trees were planted
where they didn’t just happen
where somebody intended the green

tonight I miss New York
ten years is a very long time

/ / /

Jason Crane
15 February 2015
Oak Street

Image source: Obvious Child

POEM: in New York, even the crappy restaurants play Talking Heads

in New York, even the crappy restaurants play Talking Heads

how many thousands of words
have I scratched into notebooks
trying to capture the exhalations of eight million souls?
here I am again:
Upper West Side, two blocks
from the luxury high-rise
where I squatted with nothing
but a blow-up bed and a kitchen island
a compact bald man in a suit
that looks nice from here
patrols the glass gates of Juilliard
while a service dog with Lon Chaney’s underbite
scans the sidewalk for danger
black-shirted workers unload buckets and buckets
of fresh flowers
across the street a man and a woman
sleep on adjacent benches
Beyonce’s saxophonist is on her way to meet me
the Lord moves in mysterious ways

/ / /
9 May 2014
New York City

POEM: Happy Days


Happy Days

these sidewalks are littered
with slowly fading memories
their edges are folding up
colors draining from the images

already Terrace Bagels has changed
it shrank then grew again
Thomas Wolfe once more proved right
but at least the bagels are still good

I’m three blocks from “our” place
waiting for the person you were jealous of
funny how relationships turn out
how I cling to what I can

outside the cafe door a woman
shakes a paper cup in the wind
she’s singing a song I can’t hear
as one person after another passes her by

just in case the point needed to be made
the theme from Happy Days starts playing
I watch my own reruns for a moment more
then turn off the channel and stand to hug my friend

/ / /

22 March 2014
Terrace Bagels
Windsor Terrace
Brooklyn, NY

The angel is in the details


This weekend I stayed with my friends Daryl and Deborah in Brooklyn. On Saturday night they gave me the gift of a meal. And believe me, when Daryl and Deborah cook for you, it’s a gift.

Watching them work together in the kitchen was beautiful. First, it’s obvious how much they love one another and how much joy they take in preparing meals together. The whole process of cooking was like a partly choreographed, partly improvised dance. One person moving to the island in the middle of the kitchen to chop or read a recipe as the other moves to the stove to stir or add a bit of spice. One getting a bowl from the cabinet as the other pulls leaves off a stem. It was like watching a ballet where the story was being written by the dancers right there in the moment.

But what struck me even more was their attention to detail. Every part of the cooking process – deciding what to make and which dishes would go together, preparing the ingredients, cooking those ingredients, choosing the right serving containers and utensils – was carefully thought out, discussed, and agreed upon. There was a moment when Daryl and Deborah were picking exactly the right spoon for serving the chana dal, and I was overwhelmed with a sense of the love and joy and care that they put into meals and into taking care of their guests.

I’ve always appreciated people who care about the tiny details. Knowing the names of all the parts of a machine or the parts of speech or the intricacies of a piece of music. I once dated someone who said she only dated nerds, in other words, people who had at least one thing in which they were deeply interested. I still think that’s sound advice. Watching my friends cook brought that home. (Of course, the beautiful thing about D&D is that they bring that same level of passion and attention to many other things in addition to cooking.)

Being with Daryl and Deborah is inspiring in many ways. They’re a living lesson in mindfulness. I’m going to pay more attention to what they’re teaching.

POEM: subway seen


subway seen

sidelong glances from
at the man scratching
        lottery tickets
passing over the Manhattan Bridge
        through sudden sunshine
startled, he catches himself
        looks away
soon enough the pull of fortune
        draws his gaze again
narrowed eyes, furrowed brow
        winning or losing by proxy
until at the next stop
        the man rises
says two words to the woman
        across the aisle
takes his maybe fortune with him
        out the door

/ / /

9 February 2014

Photo source

POEM: they didn’t even mind that their skinny jeans got damp


they didn’t even mind that their skinny jeans got damp

instead they ran through the streets of the West Village
laughing as they hadn’t since they were children
jumping in puddles (first he, then she, then he again)
as the sound of a jazz combo lurched up the stairs from the 55 Bar
following them down the street like a beatnik mendicant
on the corner of Greenwich Avenue, across from
Jefferson Market Garden, she grabbed his arm, pulled him close
they kissed in front of Village 1, parting the shoppers like a boulder in a river
then, laughing, they danced out of sight down the avenue

17 December 2013
State College, PA

/ / /

The title of this poem comes from something written by Avital N. Nathman, whom you should be following on Twitter and at her website.