Awake at 4am,
the radiator whistling like
a Colorado windstorm.
I used to sleep through louder noises.
How tempting to seize the day,
having been given so many hours of consciousness
before the city stirs.
But the hours before sunrise are best left alone.
The streets are too wide without traffic;
the shuttered shops are reminders that
you are companionless in these moments.
Digital clocks advance noiselessly.
Instead, time is heard through the clatter of buses,
increasing perceptively as more lights alight.
I imagine bleary eyes fixed on coffee cups.
This is sunrise in the city.
It has been a long time since I have sat down to write, and as I stare at the blank page before me with only a few hurriedly typed, potentially inspirational notes topping the page, I try to remember how to write a poem. The beginning is always hard, when I feel that the entire poem should already be formed in my head, ready to emerge in complete form beginning with that first word. I hem and haw and decide that maybe I won’t write a poem, or maybe I have chosen the wrong topic about which to write my poem. I thought I wanted to write about winter, but perhaps I’ve been deluded by the persistent reminder of December, because it is not even 9 30 in the evening but the sun went down five hours ago, and the radiator is banging so loudly that one wonders if it might be better to just put on a third sweater instead. As soon as the radiators begin their insistent banging, the house heats up with great abandon, until someone runs back to the thermostat, and, like steering a large ship, tries to direct the air temperature on an acceptably straight course. Children never appreciate the joys of programmable thermostats when they have them. Winter, instead, was about snow and snow days and that feeling when you have just woken up and think that just maybe it snowed a whole lot the night before, and, ever so slowly, you lean out of bed and toward your window, hoping to see a tell-tale white shimmer instead of the typical dark gray shingles looking back at you. Too many times I have been fooled by roofs of very light gray, which, when one is hoping for snow, can seem to be the right color white for just a moment. There has only been one snow this winter, the kind that barely sticks to the ground and is gone by morning, but still causes flights to be canceled. If only that was as exciting as watching the long list of school cancelations scroll by on the television, and, just occasionally, rejoicing as a snowy day became a snow day.
He sits on a folding chair that is too small,
and watches, motionless, as businessmen and techies walk past;
their attire broadcasts their affiliation.
He wears a gray knit sweater, loose around his thin frame,
and glasses that are perfect for peering over as he surveys his kingdom
full of “one of everything”; items that are “unique and affordable.”
He observes a curvaceous woman as she struggles to maneuver
between carefully yet precariously piled books, themselves supporting
enormous film posters concealing piles of abandoned appliances.
He says they all still work, and always guarantees a full refund if your purchase
is not to your liking.
This seems a generous offer from a junk shop. But I don’t think
he sees the same shop as I do, filled with random pieces.
He has constructed an empire of objects.
Like a parade of ants bearing too much of a load,
the young students cradle 12 packs of cheap beer
in their skinny arms, propelled forward by skinny legs in skinny jeans.
The uphill journey is long.
The sun only warms one side of the street,
so I find myself there
like a cat moving lazily through the day.
Black coffee in white ceramic
resting on roughly hewn wood.
The smell of freshly baked bread.
There is warmth in the winter sun.