Red Plastic Jump Rope
Squeezed in the landlord’s backyard behind
peeling blue two–story house, worn out
garage, paddleball echoing from the nearby
park, we jumped rope together laughing
under a red plastic whirl, A for Albert From
Arkansas, our parents on the front stoop talking;
in our teens your friend told me you were a
loner who rarely left home, she couldn’t believe
as children we jumped rope, the force of her
voice turned my face red; we all hung out
together in the projects; your friend drank,
did drugs, fooled around, I hid with the tall
black boys playing hoops with them until
midnight ; that summer in the rundown
Chinese takeout across from the projects, I saw
you, too thin, dressed in black, scraggily hair,
I wanted to reach out to touch you right
there, call to see you smile, you handed
your money across the counter, walked past
me with your brown bag, in the open kitchen
a shriveled old man paused over his blackened
wok, cigarette dangling from his mouth,
the noodles dropped in the pan, he disappeared
into a plume of sizzling grey smoke.
Love Gone on Union Square
A towel is lost. Blue rivers run
through my lover. Inside couples
clutch each other, gnaw each other’s
hearts. Soon executions will be held
on television, an overwhelming heaviness,
the butter-smothered bread will be
felt. Deeper inside white swans sun
themselves on liquid pools. A young
woman reads, waits to pour drinks.
I don’t want to cry out her name,
I just want to hold the light in her eyes.
A circle of friends smoke pot. I head
up Park Avenue , three men, side by side,
like old carpets, bundled on the sidewalk,
a block away their red faces still glow.
Gramercy, a couple inside a doorway
frozen in a kiss, there are small apartment
windows, sighs under green flowered blankets.
Bar window Third Avenue a glass raised,
A man disappears, colder it grows, soon it
will snow, the crystal flakes will dissolve
on my tongue, the winds keeping me close
to buildings. I dream of a friend and another
drink, the lamplights disappear, a white swirl,
and all night the traffic lights pose questions,
unanswered, on empty snow covered city streets.
Gary Sokolow has a long time ago MFA (Brooklyn College) and
doesn't work anywhere near the arts these days.