Archive for November, 2008

night in the neighborhood

It seems there’s no one on the sidewalk. I’ve got my head tipped back to see the dark blue sky. I feel the air shift a little, someone is dancing around to avoid crashing into me. We are left standing too close, but neither of us moves. “You see a spaceship up there, girl?” he asks. “No,” I tell him. “I am looking for the moon.” I’ve been standing on tiptoe, searching the sky. But it’s hiding somewhere, behind a tall building or below the horizon of the brownstones. “I can’t find it, can you?” He takes a step back now, looks around. “Nope, but you know. Gotta have faith in the moon.”


near the high school

There are teenagers lining the sidewalks. They are judging everyone.


Winter is clearing the streets. The corner boys have taken their business underground, their lookouts are gone from the bodega steps. Everyone walks with their head down against the winds that rush at them, or the winds that are rumored to come. Even on the subway, the warmth is drained out of the riders. They burrow into their coats and scarves. They are insulated from each other as well as the cold. Nobody casts a searching glance. Nobody exchanges a nod.

down the block

I haven’t seen the girl since midsummer. Now she comes through her front door. Something has changed. She has grown into herself. She has become enticing. She stretches and yawns, and takes her time settling down to sit on the top step. She tips her head one way, and then the other. What she is not doing is fidgeting. What she is not doing is posing. What she is not doing is waiting. After a while the corner boys come slowly out of the dark, one by one. They sit at her feet and ignore each other. She gives the street an idle scan. Minutes pass. Nobody says a word.

in the subway

A platoon of junior-highschool kids striding along the platform in full military dress. An accordion plays.

in the projects

A skinny man in a Santa hat talking on the phone: “You do the right thing when I get home, hear?”

in the east village

There’s a splattered coffee on the ground, a startled woman surrounded by strangers-in-aid. A man is yelling at another man, and then the smaller one pivots and breaks into a practiced sprint, his legs blurred in the slight rain. The yelling man runs after him, they dodge through the people on the sidewalk like a car chase. The coffee is still there, the woman is still there, she is still shaken. The sprinter has half a block over his pursuer. They race around the corner out of sight.


Today, nobody is a stranger.

in the projects

A little kid is trying skateboard tricks on the stairs. He keeps falling down. The big kid says, “it’s okay, skateboarders are allowed to hang on to something,” and then he winks at me.