POEM: tonight I miss New York

nyc

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: Valentine’s Day

joshwhite

Valentine’s Day

the shades are down though
the day is overcast
Josh White is singing
“House Of The Rising Sun”
warm vinyl suffusing the air
with honey-scented blues
one boy is on the couch
napping cat above him
the other at the computer
napping cat at his feet

this is a moment
to capture in amber
so its DNA can be extracted
years later when these boys
have boys of their own
in some far-off town
& I’m listening to Josh White
with two different cats
& my memories
to keep me company

/ / /

Jason Crane
14 February 2015
Oak Street

Bonus: Here’s Josh White singing “House Of The Rising Sun”

POEM: late at night, from a cold sidewalk

"Nighthawks" by Edward Hopper
“Nighthawks” by Edward Hopper

late at night, from a cold sidewalk

through the window of a crowded bar
laughers crammed shoulder to shoulder
a hand in the back pocket of a lover’s jeans
a man’s face as he sets a scene for a friend

everybody belongs exactly where they are
the night gets a few degrees colder
it’s not entirely clear what this means
or whether everything is nearing the end

the distance between is a pane of glass, not far
but looking through it makes him feel older
he’s more a fan of Edward Hopper’s scenes
at least while his spirit is on the mend

/ / /

Jason Crane
11 February 2015
Oak Street

POEM: Smallman & 21st

Smallman & 21st

she said nobody
had ever kissed her
on a street corner
right out in public
that seemed like
a damn shame
so I kissed her

/ / /

Jason Crane
7 February 2015
Oak Street

POEM: if tonight were the last night

101212end

if tonight were the last night

if tonight were
the last night
you are the one
I’d want to be with

if the waters
were rising I’d
reach for your hand
pull you close

if the moon fell
to the Earth below
I’d watch the sky
darken with you

if this were
my last dance
I’d want you
in my arms

if the strings
began playing
as the screen
faded to black

if there would
never be any
chance to
go back

if tonight were
the end of all nights
you’d be the one
the only one

/ / /

Jason Crane
5 February 2015
Oak Street

NOTE: I wrote this quickly over the end credit music of Seeking A Friend For The End Of The World.

POEM: the memory hole (for Bishop Desmond Tutu)

DES

the memory hole (for Bishop Desmond Tutu)

Twice this week I talked to people
who didn’t know Bishop Desmond Tutu.
The small giant with the impish laugh
who strode across the landscape of my
high school years, my classmates & I
following behind with our END APARTHEID
buttons, ordered from the Northern Sun catalog,
pinned proudly to our rugby shirts. We grew up
in a county that was nearly 100% white.
Even now, more than two decades later, I
remember the name of every person of color
I met through the age of 18. We could have
all piled into a van if we’d wanted to go
to a protest together. But of course there
were no protests to go to in our town &
it hadn’t yet occurred to any of us to start one.
Still, we knew Mandela & we watched
Denzel Washington play Stephen Biko five years
before he would introduce us to Malcolm X.
It was safer for us to know about Tutu & Biko
& Mandela. They were thousands of miles
away in a bad place that mistreated black
people. Not like our town, where a young
black woman was the vice president of the
student council. See? We would have
spent the requisite class period on the
civil rights movement if we hadn’t run
out of time in the year & been forced
to end at World War II. Still, a few of us
had our buttons & we listened to Sting
sing about Chile & U2 sing about whatever
it was they were singing about & we felt
like the sun would always shine on us.
On some weekends we’d go to the lake,
stand on the end of the pier & look out at
Squaw Island, where women & children
fled as Sullivan’s soldiers flowed like a
rushing river over the land, trying to
extinguish the flame of the Iroquois.
It turns out that story might not be true;
that in fact the island is more likely
to have been a staging area for the
Iroquois resistance. I can’t imagine why
no one taught us about that. But I digress.
This is not a poem about America.
This is a poem about a man of the cloth
in a faraway land where people
were once judged on the color of their skin,
not the content of their character.
This is not a poem about America.
This is a poem about a country where
black people had fewer rights & fewer
opportunities than white people.
This is not a poem about America.
This is a poem about a religious leader
who said enough is enough & that his people
must stand up against oppression.
This is not a poem about America.
This is a poem about a place so evil
that white men with guns could shoot
black men without guns with no fear of
reprisal or consequence.
This is not a poem about America.
This is not a poem about America.
This is not a poem about America.

/ / /

Jason Crane
25 January 2015
Oak Street