Blackbirdan online journal of literature and the artsSpring 2022  Vol. 21  No. 1
an online journal of literature and the arts
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The New Poem

I was hiding truths from myself I didn’t want to voice
but was starting to. My breath in morning against the living

room window as I collected the paper,
pushing out the thought of a letter opener, my hand

opening glued envelopes, and was otherwise
useless to the state department, the unified school district,

the city of NY, NY, standing under green scaffolding
waiting for something so simple

as rain. I followed the stream of thought
the city offered from the limited grass

and eyed people as they passed to turnstiles,
municipal parks, apartment buildings.

At the moving company, when I was younger,
I said I would lift with another man

a triple dresser, sleeper sofas, wrap whole houses
in packing paper for the dollar. I was afraid

there were luxuries I would never know
again: Cola-flavored lip balm, leather-jasmine

scented candles. All I wanted to be
was a vein blooming in an eagle’s eye,

drawn backward on a flappable sign off the interstate,
the bright peel of husked fruit falling in every direction

for hours, an ox sleeping below a sill.
But I am young in my debt, and inexact in what I mean

when I say, I was lonely then, as I am now
standing in the foyers of paintings of landscapes,

abstract impressionism, Gothic architecture. This June
morning, I arrived in a heatwave to the city

thinking of what I am as I walked up the set of steps
through the double doors, and upstairs into lightness.  

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