Skip to content →

Tag: Poetry

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: Valentine’s Day


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

Leave a Comment

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

Leave a Comment

POEM: if tonight were the last night


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.

One Comment

POEM: the memory hole (for Bishop Desmond Tutu)


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

One Comment

POEM: by any other name

by any other name

the grass was southern, green in the way
the grass gets when it’s always hot and humid
green like the promise of huckleberry and locusts
we sat on the bank of a slow-moving stream
the baby’s stroller a few feet away
the baby himself on the blanket between us
cooing and playing with first your fingers, then mine
you used to wear lipstick sometimes
along with your funky retro glasses
you’d just cut your hair short, too
I was into sandals by this time, having
discovered them in the desert a few years before
did we bring snacks? probably not
I don’t remember ever thinking of things
lasting long enough for either of us to get hungry
for anything but one another
even though we had hours and hours when
nobody was wondering where we were
still, we approached every meeting like a secret mission
one from which return was unlikely, and for which
no continuation seemed possible
this message will self-destruct in five seconds
sometimes we barely touched, maybe
brushing fingers on the stroller handle
or bumping shoulders in that way people do
when they’re watching something else
but thinking only of one another
I’m not sure why I’m remembering this now
this week you’ve been on my mind
today I opened the English version
of a popular French novel to discover
the translator has your name
you’re on your fourth last name
between us we’ve had seven
which is, I think anyone would agree, quite a few
how tragic that in all those renamings
we never managed to settle on the same one

/ / /

Jason Crane
22 January 2015
Oak Street


POEM: second chances

second chances

She’s been with him for eight years.
It’s been sixteen since we were…
whatever it was we were.
Nearly five since “please forget me.”
Tonight I found a photo of her face;
a recent photo, not from our era.
She looks happy and beautiful.
The sight of her. Jesus.
Today someone told me
I fall in love too easily, with anyone.
Maybe. But I also stay in love.
I guess I’m a fool.

/ / /

Jason Crane
21 January 2015
State College

Leave a Comment

POEM: I cannot threaten death (an erasure poem based on MLK’s “Beyond Vietnam” speech)

I cannot threaten death

(Original Text: “Beyond Vietnam”
by Martin Luther King, Jr.
4 April 1967)

this magnificent conscience
leaves us in full accord
these words call us in time of war
of dreadful conflict
we must move
the silence of the night is limited
but the darkness seems so close
I called for the heart of the King
Aren’t you hurting?
I trust
I believe
I come not to the ambiguity
nor to the resolution
they are never resolved
I wish to speak
I am shining as if
I would never see an enemy
eight thousands liberties die
in brutal silent cruel manipulation
awareness would change our nation
the violence in the boys
we chose
O America America America!
now America destroys
I cannot threaten death
God is helpless and outcast
bound by human hands
madness within the people
hear their broken cries
we refused them
poisoned the land
we were reckless, tragic
the peasants watched
as we read promises of peace
where they know our bombs
they watch their children beg
our tortures are
their most cherished bitterness
to speak of liberation as aggression
is the right question
we are bombs, armies
we do not negotiate
they moved the truth
claimed that bombing, shelling, aggression
are the process of the sophisticated
I calculate the image of violence
I begin
we must make
we must provide
we must continue
we must be
we must protest
the struggle is a reality
and a dozen other names calling God
we have seen helicopters napalm
the peaceful
incapable of justice
the Good Samaritan beaten and robbed
capitalists with no concern
burning human veins
year after year
the United States of poverty
insecurity and injustice
shirtless and barefoot in darkness
our only hope
in the final analysis
is in the ultimate reality of love
we can afford the oceans
we are fierce, naked, adamant
we must move
let us tell of hope
of solidarity, of history
as every nation comes in truth
each goes by truth and behind the shadow
we will make our world beautiful

/ / /

Jason Crane

NOTE: You can hear this poem and see it in context here.

Leave a Comment

POEM: The Max Headroom Broadcast Signal Intrusion


The Max Headroom Broadcast Signal Intrusion

back when we used to watch the same three channels
& a pirate could take over the nine o’clock news
now a m-m-m-maniac in sunglasses and a latex mask
is shouting the names of his friends and enemies
looking like a crazed Ronald Reagan (yes, all Ronald
Reagans look crazed) & we’re glued to the set
like Oprah was giving away free cars but of course
she hadn’t started doing that yet in 1987; she had only
just displaced Phil Donahue (that ancient wizard) as
the number one talk show host on the block but we digress
Pseudo Max Headroom is on our TV screens in place
of “The Horror Of Fang Rock” & who is Chuck Swirsky?
[screams and moans] “Your love is fading!” & at the end
a woman dressed like Heidi smacks his ass with a fly swatter
& we can’t help but wonder if this was the only
two minutes of honesty on WTTW that entire day

/ / /

Jason Crane
18 January 2014
Oak Street

/ / /

Here’s a video of the incident referred to in this poem:

Leave a Comment

POEM: the sound of Irish poet Paul Muldoon saying “now”

the sound of Irish poet Paul Muldoon saying “now”

It comes out with a vowel sound
unknown in American English;
close to “nye” (as in Bill)
but with a bit of the “w” left in at the end.

To Muldoon it’s just the way he says “now.”
Still I get the feeling he’s sparing with it,
throwing it in like the last spice in a soup:
not overmuch, but without it something’s missing.

So I listen, waiting for that syllable like it was
one of Coltrane’s high notes. Paul does not disappoint.
He sprinkles in a “now” here and there; bright
dandelions not yet gone to seed in an autumn field.

/ / /

Jason Crane
14 January 2015
Oak Street

Leave a Comment

POEM: knots


My skin smells of grapeseed oil.
My left arm, a hardened mass.
Her sure hands glide along it;
she breathes in sharpquiet; notes
the tension in my right leg as
my body tries to find balance.
My right foot is turning inward.
Soon, perhaps, I’ll be walking in
circles like Marvin in the swamp.
Twelve hundred hours on a cushion,
following my breath: I’m still in knots.
Slowly untying, relaxing, loosening,
falling back into this newly shaped life.

/ / /

Jason Crane
14 January 2015
State College PA

Leave a Comment