Monday, March 06, 2006

Street Corner

Back in September 2005, I recorded myself reading my poem, "Street Corner", and posted the mp3 at both the Internet Archive and Ourmedia. This poem was something that consumed me about 10 years(!) ago, and which I've fine tuned on only a few occasions since. I don't claim to be a poet, don't pretend to understand what your contemporary poetry reader or connoisseur wants. Full disclosure: I've submitted "Street Corner" to at least 7 poetry markets (I'd submitted a few times before I began to keep submission records), and seen it rejected everywhere. The one editor who liked it couldn't use it due to the length. In spite of this, I find the collage of rhymes and imagery personally meaningful, which is why I released an audio version for free over at Ourmedia. I like it. Who knows? Maybe you'll find some connection to it as well.

In this interim between my professional announcements and news, I give you ----- "Street Corner".

Street Corner

Welcome to the place where you now find yourself,

Cursing and questioning the fate you’ve been dealt.

You rail and scream against this Typhoid sentence,

Humbled before the city’s mindless omnipotence.

On the first corner, an A-frame reads, “Pave the earth”,

On the second corner, a woman screams through childbirth.

Third corner, skyscrapers rise from tectonic shifts,

And then there’s you, with orange suit and cuffed wrists.

The city’s your judge and court is in session,

You’re sentenced to hard time at this intersection.

You’re a documentary of a soul standing alone,

In this burning place, scored by the beltway’s drone.

Hopeless solitude found before the camera eye,

Cinematic stillness broken by the city bird’s cry.

You watch films of the war on the first corner’s screen,

Across from that, Kurosawa shoots a scene,

On the third corner, a samurai commits suicide,

And then there’s you: conveying loss of pride,

The director yells Cut and they take down the set,

Shooting is finished where these streets intersect.

Sunlight seeks passage through the shroud of smog & clouds,

But the sun’s not welcome here; there’s no life allowed.

Can’t touch the filth, the stains, the grime, the scum,

Because in the sun we’d see what we’ve become.

On one corner fight diseased rats and pigeons,

Across a man is preaching his religions.

The third corner whore reminds you that you knew her,

And then there’s you lying face down in the sewer.

Lips spread wide, your tongue pressed against the grate,

With open mouths you both silently await.

Drinking deeply the city’s discarded potion,

As it passes through the intersection towards the ocean.

You pull the sludge and nicotine into your lungs,

The noxious vapor burns on your atrophied tongue.

You fraternize among- but you’re just graffiti,

Painted and forgotten on the walls of the city.

Nefertiti grows obsolete on the first corner,

Across is Zeus, flanked by wiseguys and informers.

On the third corner stands the resident godhead,

And then there’s you, envying the undead.

They come to tell their tales and seek Zeus’ protection,

You’ve never felt so alone at this intersection.

Over this place’s stink you struggle just to think,

The curb is your bar, you order another drink.

You find that you can’t keep from facing towards the sky,

With footprints on your chest and saliva in your eye.

On the first corner stumbles W.C. Fields,

On the second corner a pusher blatantly deals,

On the third corner I sit and observe,

And then there’s you, quietly waiting to be served.

I buy you a shot and send it in your direction,

We’re all regulars at this intersection.

Your life is a sex motel; doors say do not disturb,

There’s no privacy; you catch the smell of herb,

Sitting on the curb, this new smell accents the stench.

You sink further down like a soldier in a trench.

On the first corner wait the dreaded undead,

They envy Frankenstein’s monster and the life it led.

We all look in awe, on the third corner lurks death,

And then there’s you, all alone and out of breath.

This is a sex motel, but you can’t get an erection,

Check out anytime, but you can’t leave the intersection.

The ancient mariner’s ship sails through the streets,

But the ill-fated vessel sinks into the concrete.

Cruising the metaphor, enigmatic ferryman,

Avert your eyes, he recruits passengers where he can.

Siddhartha sits first corner listening for the Om,

Alone; across the way Jim Morrison reads a poem,

On the third, a wise man feeds his stray pets,

And then there’s you, not remembering to forget.

Full of regret, you look back to when life was better,

Before this intersection, the day that you met her.

Covered with mucus you stand there among them,

Skin and hair greasy and matted with phlegm.

A paradigm, you don’t even have a pair of dimes,

Couldn’t pry one off of the pavement from the filth and grime.

One corner’s Captain Ahab, and in the street’s a hearse,

Across from that the Sphynx is dealing out its curse.

Third corner on the curb a test tube of Ebola.

And then there’s you, drinking your can of flat cola.

The E. Coli dies on burgers cooked to perfection,

The smell permeates throughout the intersection.

William Gibson’s dead channel sky looms above,

Your lost love is all you allow yourself to think of.

Like Edgar Allan Poe dreamt of lost Lenore,

Quoth the suspended traffic light, “Nevermore.”

Yonder perches a raven with blackest feathers,

Across a beautiful happy couple together.

On the third corner stands the image of despair,

And then there’s you trying desperately not to care.

You give heart to feelings too dark to mention,

And you ponder despair at hell’s intersection.

Impatient inpatient standing at this crossroads,

Internet junkie- a virus in your download.

The world passes you by: enemies strangers and friends,

_The end_; you silently know- someday this will end.

You depend on fate’s pendulum to set you free,

When you’ll wash away the scum, when the streets will be empty.

On all three corners, locked doors with exit signs,

And then there’s you, silently biding your time.

Someday you’ll log off and speak in another dimension,

But for time present you’ll live death at the intersection.


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