My city is its handful of bars with the same 300 customers cycling in and out.
It’s an up-and-coming city
on America’s longest road race
toward outstretched hands of cold Utica Club beer.
My city’s air bites my cheeks in the morning and
my city’s sun kisses my cheeks in the afternoon.
My city is its one zoo and four McDo —
actually, it doesn’t feel edgy to call out McDonald’s anymore.
We don’t know what we’re eating.
We know that we should be scared of it.
We love this shit.
My school is its students speaking 40 languages.
It’s the senior yearbook photos at the train station.
It’s pancakes in chemistry and short pencils
and smoking desk lamps
and never again trying to be so good or so bad at something,
so on the outside or inside.
It’s all the kids that had to pay income tax and avoided going home and
skipped school lunch until it was free for everyone and
had sex before they were given sex education and
smoked weed before it was medicine and
started college at fourteen years old.
It’s all the worlds we look away from,
the ghosts that need to slam doors only to scare us away,
the litter of rainsoaked cardboard and needles,
the sock drawer full of dry cardboard and needles,
all the bad graffiti,
and the Floridians that drove 18 hours for our dope ass food pantries
— and being sent back.
It’s the high school sweethearts and entrepenuers and janitors and professors,
the lineage that trickled down from Ellis Island and the storm that keeps on coming,
the paper sales company that steals your favorite tv characters,
the most tackles on the NFL’s defensive end,
and the bragging rights when you see New York’s mother at Price Chopper.
My city is gravel and chainlink fences; it’s where the boys never outgrow softball & spend nights sinking stitches into the stars, pacing their way around homebase — again.
It’s wanting to stay and wanting to leave.
It’s the Christopher Columbus statue that we keep up just so we can keep fighting about it.
It’s the people loitering in corner store doorways and the people that awkwardly shimmy by.
My city is curry&adobo&baklava&pecorino romano cheese&tomato pie (with oil instead of butter)&cakey cookies with chocolate and vanilla frosting
— yes, Jerry, they’re fighting in your gut,
but they always shake hands
and the promoters arrange a rematch
again and again like red and blue,
— except that’s all guilt, no pleasure
served up on the Dave’s Diner menu.
My city is its familiar streets somewhere between
a village and NYC,
nothing and everything.
It’s the fading mural of the sun whose rays expire at the fake liberty bell.
It’s the trash cans that became mosaics and the potholes that became trash cans.
It’s a promo commercial singing, “We can swim, we can vote, we can fish!”
It’s winter daydreams of Water Safari, where the heat dries you off so quickly
and you complain about shit $10 pizza slices and drop like a pencil down Kilimanjaro
aaaand, because you’re thinking it, it’s where the fun never stops.
My city is its railroad safehouses and wine pixies and open fridges and food critics and movie lovers and artist coalitionists and anarchist abolitionists.
It’s not wanting to throw away burnt lasagna or burnt DVDs
and still having the biggest dump in the Mohawk Valley.
It’s every group of five people dreaming to make a difference:
first the register at 9 AM and then the world at 5:15