Category: Poetry (page 1 of 2)

Mira Berkson: Two Poems

My Love for You is Like My Love for Dhall Bananas:

I could always count on you
for my trustworthy source of midday fulfillment
until last Friday.

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Thinking About You, Walking.

When I left my house that Monday night, my mother asked where I was going but I shut the door and the brass lock clinked into place without an answer. I didn’t know I would walk to you. I took the roundabout way, three miles of dirty Brooklyn blocks spent looking down at my scuffed leather shoes, stepping over the old gum on the sidewalks withered into black blobs. The streetlights made yellow spots on the murky Gowanus, and I crossed over to the other (your) side of the slope. Few people were outside, and I could hear the rustle of fallen tree leaves and the whirring hum of speeding cars on Third Avenue. I rounded the corner past the looming Armory and shoved my hands deeper into my pockets, feeling the dollar and twenty-seven cents sifting through my fingers in a clattering of pennies and dimes. The deli near your house had blinking neon lights, red-lined cigarettes and bitter soda and I stopped in to buy a pack of mint gum. I popped one out and started crushing it between my teeth, dropping the wrapper down a storm-drain. As I walked by Seventeenth (your) Street I imagined you eating steak and potatoes like your mom made for me when I came over for dinner for the first time a few weeks ago, because it didn’t seem right to eat greasy pizza after spending hours in the abandoned paths of Prospect Park, leaping over puddles and knocking on the doors of abandoned potting-sheds. I decided to wait for you on the bridge you call romantic, peering through the metal diamonds into the distance, fixing my eyes on the plastic bags blowing across the highway until your hair caught the streetlight and (inhale) I turned to face you and you stopped a foot short of me. Are you okay. I pushed the gum to the other side of my mouth. Yeah. Are you okay. Let’s walk. We started unraveling the route I took to get there, passing the wannabe French café we once drank burnt coffee in on a Sunday afternoon prolonging our homework, and the rolling hill of Third Street we once stumbled up after I drank too much and you took hold of my shoulder. I took you to my version of romantic and we gazed at a naked Aphrodite on the water. Your own twinkling eyes blinded mine as I tried to read your face like a map. The streetlights played games in your hair and your Roman nose was in profile and your brows furrowed a bit in the center and I could see the blond wisps of hair on your chin that escaped your morning razor. When you turned to face me I whipped my head back around at the fountain and blinked away my secret. The gum remained dormant in my mouth, sitting on my tongue, and your own head motioned for us to walk and I felt your eyes leave my face once more. My shoes, still muddy from the dirt in the park, clicked on the cobblestone and I tried to stare at them instead of you. Are you okay. Your coat was halfway buttoned, thrown quickly over your white T-shirt after you got my message. Maybe because we didn’t have school the next day anyway. Maybe because you are the you that I know. When we hugged in front of my stoop you were shivering and I felt you inhale and pull me a tiny bit closer before you unwrapped your arms from my shoulders and gave me a nod before turning to walk down my block back to your own. The mint taste had gone from my gum and I spat it out onto the pavement, leaving another black blob for me to step over the next time I walk. Maybe then I’ll reach you.

The Taxidermy of Sacagawea

Some words disappear into history like the buffalo: her name for home, her name

her chatter weaving through the grasses and the hides
the way my friend screamed when i scraped my knee in her driveway

If only she’d kept a diary; not this one on display
made in her wake, nor the one made by the two men she led
she’ll remain undocumented, remains unoccupied story unknowable
only the consequences of her choices disrupt these days

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We Cannot Be Fed Lies, or Alternatively: California

The soup from the sky
filled the boats, the streets, the homes.

The people, at first, were first
to rejoice. Cracked hands flexed

upping up every drop. Mouths, open in little ozones,

gulped down the soupdrops; people bought the soupdrops;
eyes ears callouses made ridges

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I was twenty years old
when I saw her dance like a flickering candle.
I was a lanky pock-marked chlorine-bleached bad haircut.
And she was a beauty,
in a sloshy sort of party way.
It wasn’t holy. She was too drunk-
I was drunk too.

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On Heaviness and Frivolity

The drink throws me
back into myself from
deep paradises, out
of temporality into knowledge
I know now what it hides—
the poisoned geographies
the promises, the dead
oh, the dead, who within
consumption take action—
I know now that I am moving ahead
but through what I couldn’t say
a length of rope, a coil of sinew
peels of grapefruit, strange Continue reading

Leaving San Luis Obispo

i wanted to hear the ragged
miyazaki engine hum
through a rusted-out windpipe,
but we drove up here in a lexus
with working windows and an intact radio.
instead, we listened

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A Ghost

the voices coming
through the floorboards
tell you there is no
underlying rationality and
you know this to be true.

you open doors and
closets to find the darkness
but whenever you do light
cannot help but flood
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