below 96th street

i plant words
in rubbish bins and under
concrete spiders with long legs,
lick graffiti from subway walls
and wonder silently
what magic line the 96th street is

& if you find more poetry
above it or below

or none at all–

but maybe all these words stand
in a line at Starbucks, dip
their nose in Caramel
Macchiato, tell each other they
can’t sleep at night because
of all the caffeine
& cause the sirens shriek
through noise proof panes,

i’m gonna search for them
under a bench in Central Park
where i’ll sit and wait for spring
as if nothing in the world is more important,
& of course i know–

but it escapes me like
verbs and nouns in foreign tongues
that have no meaning and accordingly,
make not much sense, no matter
if you wrap them
with a tinted steel rope round your chest–

instead i hang them carefully
on new born branches,
blow warm breath upon their sur_face,
rub their icy fingertips &

finally forget that i’m a guest
to all these lines that harbor in me
for a while and then— move on

.

it’s OpenLinkNight again at dVerse Poets pub, where our lovely host natasha head will dish out verse and caramel macchiato…doors will swing open at 3pm EST…can’t wait to see you there..

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69 responses to “below 96th street

  1. Extremely wise decision, to hang all these lines of words in “newborn branches” in the trees! There, the warm breaths and breezes and new light and drops of spring rains will bring them to fruition, I am sure! Never, ever stuff the lines of words under benches or bind them around your chest under concealing coats of winter!

  2. Always looking forward to being your guest in here, C. … and thanks for being my guest at times … it means a lot to me. Love, cat.

  3. love this picture you paint: instead i hang them carefully
    on new born branches,
    blow warm breath upon their sur_face,
    rub their icy fingertips

    Thank you, Claudia, for sharing your words with us/me 🙂

  4. smiles…a magical journey claudia…love that bit at the end where you treat them like children, rubbing their hands…and i know you will find plenty under that bench in central park…i wrote like 18 poems in the 4 days i was there….

  5. Beautiful write, Claudia – an ode to poetry itself. Such warm and rich imagery throughout. I really love the closing lines. I think we as artists can agree that once we set our words/creation forth into the world, it takes on a life of its own.

  6. I fell inlove with these words….i plant words
    in rubbish bins and under
    concrete spiders with long legs,
    lick graffiti from subway walls
    and wonder silently
    what magic line the 96th street is…………………
    and then I continued reading and fell inlove with the whole thing!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 🙂

  7. Quite the scene you set as your words twist. You almost had the cat excited at the prospect of eating spiders, but they were just concrete and those hurt the teeth..haha

  8. One of the things I love most about your poetry, Claudia, is how you flow so naturally from one concept to the next; it’s like sitting on a raft in a river of words and being carried along, watching the clouds above fly by… this one is especially like that, and I love the sense that at the end of the journey, spring is somehow always waiting.

  9. i was just watching the movie “The Warriors” and there is a big sequence that occurs at the 96th Street station. So it was really weird to see you put its in a poem. You’re right about all the languages in the city, and some neighborhoods, you hear more a variety than in others. You touched the city well. I grew up there, don’t know if you knew that. My older son lives there now. You should contact him .

  10. Wonder if those words are not the guests, and YOU allow them to move on after your magic has been worked.

    Just and adorabley humble message for writers everywhere. And SO well done…as words move out to us and beyond.

    PEACE!, Claudia! Mmmmmmm!

  11. Those elusive words…if they’re standing in line at Starbucks, they are no doubt hopped up on caffeine and probably cousins to some of Kerouac’s .

  12. Nice job of perspective in here Claudia. Not so sure I’m down with the whole licking graffiti, but I do like looking at the good art graffiti almost every time 🙂 Caramel Macchiato’s are great, unfortunately can’t have as often as I’d like, need to drop a few pounds and that caramel, oh that damn caramel-lol The piece really takes us on a walk of sorts, part tourist, part observer- wonderful job. Thanks

  13. ah, you’re planting words again and/or hanging them “carefully
    on new born branches” – whichever, I always love what comes up… surprising (often), unique (always), totally Claudia.

    but maybe all these words stand
    in a line at Starbucks, dip
    their nose in Caramel
    Macchiato, tell each other they
    can’t sleep at night because
    of all the caffeine…

    hehe… them and me both 😀

  14. Planting words everywhere you go…I totally get this. I don’t know why- but the more I write- the more I see words everywhere I go ( inspiration I suppose)- I think that’s what you’re describing here. I sensed that you were sat somewhere – people watching. This captured the essence of poetry – making sense of the world around us.

  15. Ah the city. New York holds much of the words and many of the wordsmiths of the U.S. Probably below 96th… I would think more like the Lower East Side or now in DUMBO where the huddled masses huddled, mixed their mahjongg and lasagna, their Irish stew with yiddish and Russian. In the tenements where the dressmakers worked, where ideas bubbled, where novels were born, and poems were burned to stay warm. Your words would be welcome anywhere in the city though, dear Claudia!

  16. We find our inspiration for our poems in so many places and if we’re no receptive to what we are given…they are long gone before we can take up our pens…quite enjoyed what thoughts this verse engendered.

  17. Beautiful!
    There is nothing like spring in New York. I’ll let my bias from 119th come in here and suggest that you have to cross 110th Street to find the poetry of the city. The birth of the Beats was north of 110th…the Harlem Renaissance was north of 110th. Visit the 1970s and check out Bobby Womack’s “Across 110th Street.”

    I could be wrong and 96th Street is the new 110th…the new Village and I have a few scribbled pages from Central Park West and W96th to teeter either way.

    As always Claudia, your words inspire passion.

    Cheers,

    Mark

  18. This is beautiful – thanks for the gentle reminder, as I tend to think these are all things I come up with myself …

    “finally forget that i’m a guest
    to all these lines that harbor in me
    for a while and then— move on”

    Bless you and your resplendent muse,
    Moskowitz

  19. This might be my favorite of yours! I love it. 🙂

    The opening is the very best to me:
    “i plant words
    in rubbish bins and under
    concrete spiders with long legs,
    lick graffiti from subway walls”

    And this part is yummy:
    “but maybe all these words stand
    in a line at Starbucks, dip
    their nose in Caramel
    Macchiato, tell each other they
    can’t sleep at night because
    of all the caffeine”

  20. Nice, very nice. I definitely prefer to plant them or hang them on branches rather than go looking for them at Starbucks. I love how you weave your world into them – I get to see a whole different world from mine through your verse, yet so much is the same…

  21. Hi Claudia! So excited about your visit. (I know meeting may not work out despite all intentions!, but it’s still great to think of you coming.) Lovely poem, though I must say my dividing line is generally 14th Street! Very sweet to warm up the words, while they are visiting. K.

  22. Desire, anxiety, hope – so much wound into your words. To do the poem justice, and your work in general, would take more time than I have right now. I’d like to unpack their little suitcases and see what wonderful places they’ve been or suggest they might go int the next stop. Though your poems often seem like everything has been said, I don’t believe it for a minute. There’s so much waiting to be seen afresh, anew, the life you suggest in this poem you hide in junk piles or doorsteps like morning milk bottles. Another wonderfully magical poem.

  23. Hi …I’m a word…just passing through

    I dig this C…the “borrowing” ad “enlightening” we do before passing them on

    I thought of Takeittothestreetpoetry when I read this…..you are a benevolent distributor of beauty

    Peace

  24. Such vivid, unique images Claudia… I just love your style… I especially like this:

    but it escapes me like
    verbs and nouns in foreign tongues
    that have no meaning and accordingly,
    make not much sense, no matter
    if you wrap them
    with a tinted steel rope round your chest–

  25. Next time I’m in N.Y. I must look under the benches and in the graffiti. I want to find words where you find them. Maybe then, I would write something that approximates just a little the ingenuity in your poems. This was really special.

  26. You do it so well, Claudia.. the slide and glide across dimensions.. always lifting the earth to see what lies beneath.

    I feel the tinted steel rope and want the warm breath. Wonderful poetry all through… what a great start to my day!

  27. the best of word searchers! yes 😉

    esp liked, “where i’ll sit and wait for spring” – kinda a lynchpin to all the preceding and following – the searching, finding, then warming “new born branches”, and finally forgetting you’re even just a guest…

    why not? you’ve merged with the seasons of words within you, nice! 😉

  28. I’ll be paying special attention the next time I’m around 96th St. Never know what’s to be found under the park bench!….nice reflection here, in every respect!!

  29. the lead in stanza is liquid in its flow and connection, a wonderful sense of imagery and depth, I felt it quite captivating. Wonderful write Claudia! ~ Rose

  30. This is brilliant!

    i’m gonna search for them
    under a bench in Central Park
    where i’ll sit and wait for spring
    as if nothing in the world is more important

    I love this part,I find it so hard to get inspiration and this alone inspires me to get a photo of central park and start writing 🙂

  31. This is absolutely amazing writing!

    There is so much to take in, it awakens the senses to myriad things, one thing I love about it is the descriptive beauty!

    Beautifully worded Claudia!

  32. Oh goodness…I will get soppy here and say you are one of my favourite poets, Claudia : ) I just love the way you put things together and the topics you write about…so interesting!

    The entire thing weaving a story of images for me…particularly liked:

    no matter
    if you wrap them
    with a tinted steel rope round your chest–

    Wow…thank you!
    -Eva

  33. Oh Claudia, lick the salt off the rim of this margarita before licking graffiti 🙂 It tastes better and may be hiding words underneath as well. Brilliant write, as I have come to expect and truly appreciate. Thank you.

  34. beautiful the way you play with language here. 🙂
    “where i’ll sit and wait for spring
    as if nothing in the world is more important,…”
    yes.

  35. you have such a playful mastery of mood. you are in total command. some poems leave open a lot of interpretation, and that’s not necessarily bad. but i enjoy how you captain a piece forward, sticky sweet lips leaving the harbor and a rope snugly around my chest.