She //Occupied

she wrecks my nerves,
staring at me with a thousand street lights,
mascara heavy eyes–

i don’t want to admit it,
sitting in the bathroom,
face pale from the headache that
rages in the sockets right behind
my eyes but– i’m afraid–

you know, i stumbled into Rome
and fell for her, when exiting
the train at Termini, she loved me back,
licking the road dust from my feet
with a gurgling fountain tongue

and now i sit and study NYC,
like a scientist, trying to decode her genes,
rub her arms until i see the veins
pulsing through Manhattan
and she’s intimidating, perfect
with her green dress spreading
from the middle of her chest–

i think of all the men that loved her,
Allen, Coltrane, Parker, how they
made her tremble from the inside out–

& listening to Sting,
i trace subway lines with sweaty fingertips,

heck! face it, im afraid you crush me
like a bug between your towers
when i lie with you at night, right in the center,
where your heart beats loudest,

i decide to try & win you slowly
by collecting litter from your skin,
rub softly on your soily spots
in Bryant Park e.g. and gently
tickle you, my toes, dipped in the Hudson–
(mostly it is small things
that win someone over, right?)–

and i stand side by side with you,
next to your biggest & still gaping wound
shut out the noise, and listen
to your painful wailing,

this is when i start to understand
how vulnerable we are really,
that we never give up anyway &
maybe this is what connects us
in the end

& i’ll hum those crazy love tunes
on my way down to the subway
’til the melody keeps bouncing from the walls
and mingles with the choir
of the millions, millions,
that have sung for you
already

.

we’re gearing up for OpenLInkNight again with Joe Hesch tending bar tonight…hope you gonna join us 3pm EST over at dVerse Poets pub..

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80 responses to “She //Occupied

  1. That was one of the best pieces of writing I have had the good fortune to banquet upon ! A feast that still draws me back to taste it’s finery again and again…always delicious….your ability to create an environment within each readers unique perspective is mind blowing…I thank you…

    whistling from the crowd…

    well done!

  2. nice…New York will def do that to you….i love the city. i have yet to be seduced by rome except from afar but i hope to remedy that some day….really like the intimacy in this claudia…smoking piece….humming right along…..

  3. Excellent piece. NYC gets to you in so many different ways–uptown, downtown, the outer boroughs…a great source of inspiration no matter where you happen to be humming.

  4. Really, really love this, Claudia… and the contrasts such as:

    you know, i stumbled into Rome
    and fell for her, when exiting
    the train at Termini, she loved me back,
    licking the road dust from my feet
    with a gurgling fountain tongue

    ~and~

    i decide to try & win you slowly
    by collecting litter from your skin,
    rub softly on your soily spots
    in Bryant Park e.g. and gently
    tickle you, my toes, dipped in the Hudson–
    (mostly it is small things
    that win someone over, right?)–

    I like NYC, but I don’t think I could ever love it.

  5. Lovely. It never ceases to amaze me how places can really get under your skin. It’s as if you fall in love with them. This is exactly what you’ve written about here.
    Any place is home, if we love being there. Wonderful, imagery throughout this, sad for the recent past, the ghosts. Happy for the life of what is. Lovely write!

  6. wow, beautiful claudia!

    just from the few times i’ve been to nyc, over many decades, i could taste and feel the sights and sounds and places, the wantings empathys and sharings

    so so nice!

    so many images so well put, but philosophically, esp liked,

    “how vulnerable we are really,
    that we never give up anyway &
    maybe this is what connects us
    in the end”

    gotta share this one 😉 thank you claudia

  7. I can feel NYC in your words specially riding the subway, Manhattan and looking up to see her with her green dress….She is quite a sight ~

    See you ~

  8. Write on! Right on! This was so layered and spot on covering the ambiance of NYC….and I have never been there. Were you referring to “Englishman in New York”? This is Fabulous!

  9. Fab! I’ve never been to NYC (nearly did when I was 19) but I feel as though I have now! As ever, your laser beam imagery cuts it. My only gripe, which isn’t a grips, only a preference, is that you don’t mention Steely Dan in there, but there always another time 🙂

  10. Can see the city in your words, a concrete jungle is okay to visit, but there the cat would never want to stay. Can keep the hussle and bussle away. Don’t sing your tune too loud, they may think your a loon..hahaha

  11. You’ve obviously been to NYC. Mention of Bryant Park, Hudson River, Manhattan. Bryant Park especially clues me, as someone who had not been there would not likely mention it. I have memories of having Sunday brunch there! Wonderful. Haven’t been back in a while. I love the city too for a bit, and then when I depart I’m ready to leave the skyscrapers, traffic, and subways behind. Nowhere else like it!! Nice write, Claudia.

  12. Sitting here, reading Claudia’s poems … coffee at my side … cigarette between my lips … wish you where here. Always, cat.

  13. The slow and tender victories can oft prove the sweetest…you have a beautiful way with the city, Claudia. I always hear people sing her praise, but I don’t know, those bright lights have never called to me as such…though reading your work, one can easily see the appeal.

  14. So moving and intense, Claudia– I think you and I share a deep affection for certain places, and a longing for them, yes? the poet’s vagabond heart… I love:

    …and now i sit and study NYC,
    like a scientist, trying to decode her genes,
    rub her arms until i see the veins
    pulsing through Manhattan
    and she’s intimidating, perfect
    with her green dress spreading
    from the middle of her chest–

    wonderful… xxxj

  15. interesting becuz i think the occupy movement defined manhattan last year. that’s the inevitable energy i got from the title, though the poem didn’t touch on it. and that’s fine, since i felt how occupied you were with taking in new york as an artist, and that’s a huge wave to navigate, thinking of some of the greats who have spoken so beautifully of the city. i visited new york a couple weekends after the attacks on september 11, 2001, and wrote some stories for the newspaper i was working for. so the energy was somber, but the city, though deserted, was nonetheless alive. you made the big, bustling city intimately personal from the cheering section, which i occupy as well.

  16. Claudia, congrats first of all on having DF Barker tweet a link to this poem post! I can see why now! This is magnificent personification of so much of the female state when dwelling within, and being wooed by, the soul music of our world. Love the moving from Rome to NYC!

  17. This is so beautiful, Claudia. I’ve been to NYC, only briefly, and for me it was terrifying, I guess in the same way a first love would be. Daunting, and alluring. A truly stunning poem!

  18. Wow, gorgeous! Love this…and i stand side by side with you,
    next to your biggest & still gaping wound
    shut out the noise, and listen
    to your painful wailing………………………love all of it!

  19. i love, love, love the green dress spreading from the middle of her chest. Central Park was never better portrayed in one line.

    I’ve never visited NYC, partly in fear I would be overwhelmed by it. Your poem does a great job weaving emotions with physical details. the third to last stanza is great. The last stanza is also great. A wonderful ending.

  20. Reading this I could almost ‘feel’ that constant, never-ending beat, that heart pulse which I felt and heard–miles ahead of entry– and became a part of, fifty years ago.

    Never saw anything like it since, nor before…and never will. You have done well, Ma’am, in putting me right there once more!

  21. Dear Claudia,

    I knew the city before when she teemed with life unafraid, I knew her during her deepest cower and have yet to meet the city she has become since. This is incredible poetry. Moved me deeply.

  22. Oh New York, New York! Not that I’ve ever been… but reading you, I feel I have, am, there… Gorgeous writing, Claudia – the colour, the images, the… everything… and gosh! this:

    she wrecks my nerves,
    staring at me with a thousand street lights,
    mascara heavy eyes–

    Love the reflection in the penultimate stanza, and can you hear me now, joining in that gazillion-voice choir?

  23. wowsers, thanks to your poem i’ve just had one awesomeness of a voyage from my snowy Russia to New York City that i never had a chance to visit. incredible, filled to the brim with sincerity that leaves the reader breathless your works are, Claudia.

  24. I don’t think I can beat, much less match the accolades heretofore. So, let me just say that I liked the piece very much. That’s NYC, it has its own spirit (as each city does), but NY’s really alive.

    what a love song! you played it so well.

  25. Hi Claudia – your poetry always makes me hate free Europe – for the mainland, the romance, history, culture but most of all the smoky romance of the underground scene I miss so much – by is probably for the best on quarantined on this island – lol – your poetry takes me there every time… Even if it’s about Star Wars… It must be the way you tell em 🙂

  26. This is an urban love poem like no other;
    who needs Sandburg? Odd to me that there
    is this feminine mystique/vibe for cities, ships,
    mountains, race cars, machine guns, so much
    so that I call cities “He/him” whenever I can.
    First time I went to NYC I felt a wave of
    deja vu; as if I’d been there before–then I
    realized I had been there dozens of times-
    in movies. I sort of knew where all the landmarks
    were instinctually. Maybe you could write
    something stirring for Flint, Michigan.

  27. Not a fan of New York–it’s a dirty scary place with everything wrong about it–yet it produces sublime art, and amazing people with spirit and depth. Your poem really catches a lot of my own ambivalent feelings about it, and of course, about so much more. Fine piece–and may the city be full of pearls for you.

  28. Ugh I already wanna visit NYC, and this just makes my urge bigger!

    “and now i sit and study NYC,
    like a scientist, trying to decode her genes,
    rub her arms until i see the veins
    pulsing through Manhattan
    and she’s intimidating, perfect
    with her green dress spreading
    from the middle of her chest–” but this part, Claudia…
    I loved it! I read this twice before I moved on to the rest… smiles

  29. Claudia, I’ve never been. Your poem makes me ache all the more so, to go. This stanza is particularly winsome:

    i decide to try & win you slowly
    by collecting litter from your skin,
    rub softly on your soily spots
    in Bryant Park e.g. and gently
    tickle you, my toes, dipped in the Hudson–
    (mostly it is small things
    that win someone over, right?)–

    Wonderful.

  30. Welcome to “the city!” My kinda town and old stomping grounds. You’ve completely captured part of its character at one fell swoop. I can’t wait to read more of your impressions as you take in her gargantuan sights, sounds, smells, colors, chaos, order, dream, reality. There’s so much art there and it’s not nearly all in the galleries. I can’t wait to meet you when we get up there. A wonderful poem.

  31. Claudia, I like this a lot. While similar in theme to many of your writes, as in the traveling, taking everything in, this piece has a different feel to me. Perhaps it’s just my mindset right now, but I see each individual stanza as pieces of a collage, there, connected, separate yet because of their locations connected again. All these little observations and thoughts reflected upon, taking bits from each, creating a wholeness out of fragments. Excellent piece. Thanks

  32. Ah, the brilliance…when I read you I gotta wear shades!

    Some years back, I sat in a cafe in the Village having a conversation with a friend. I was quoting a guy who said he had killed six people. (Don’t remember the context now.) Two young guys at a nearby table caught just a snippet of what I had said. I heard the one say to the other, as he nodded in my direction, “He killed six people.” He said it as if that made me something of a curiosity, but nothing terribly out of the ordinary.

    New York, New Yoorrrrk….

  33. Hi Claudia! Well, I live here! Most of the time. For a long time. And I would advise not rubbing the soily spots too much on the skin! (Ha!) But it’s a lovely energetic pulsing poem–I find the best line the not giving up anyway. I think that is one very true aspect of New York–it does NOT give up.

    I also live right next to the gaping wound, which has become just so strange, a tourist center! Crazy–your poem captures a lot of that. K.

  34. I love how you connect so intimately with the places you visit…and then manage to give me the reader an opportunity to visit places I’ve never been through your words. Thanks for the trip!

  35. As a born and bred Noo Yawka, I salute you Claudia…for this unabashed, honest tribute to Gotham. I love your words…raw as New York and elegant…I like, for example, “her green dress spreading from the middle of her chest” ha! what an original tribute to Central Park! Loved this entire write!!

  36. Oh my, Claudia. Something about this just made me race through the read the first run. It ready a bit like a thriller and it took me a moment to realize “who/what” she was. NYC does have a personality of her own. I savored this, although my passion lies more with less urban characters.

  37. Claudia– this is beautifully penned and wroght with love, longing, and loss…easily applied to much more than a city, even one that sparkles as much as NYC.

    the gorgeous language choices and vivid imagery really propelled me through this one. I will definately visit this again. — C.

  38. Brilliant Claudia. Your use of imagery is always so good. The way you describe your relationship with the city is truly amazing. Great Poem.

  39. C. you have manifested the ultimate love song to NYC,
    love the way you move in and out of her, taking in all
    of her, cherishing that is what is most unique.

  40. so many great images (as usual) but this struck me:

    and i stand side by side with you,
    next to your biggest & still gaping wound
    shut out the noise, and listen
    to your painful wailing,

    because the last time I visited NYC, the Twin Towers were standing tall….are you visiting NYC, or did you move there? Thanks, Claudia, again 🙂

  41. Hi Claudia ,

    Very nice one , Yes we at times are occupied to our trivial xyz thoughts and merely look at other side of it and try to find the happiness in the little little things we do or share, the way you have described is very refreshing and nice with the flow.

    P.S : I’m back to the blogger space after a gap 6 months ..almost ..still on a sticky wicket as being in IT industry its gets a bit harder. BTW ..its alway a pleasure to read your thoughts. Here its a festival of colors ..we calls it Holi , and its one of the funcky festival anyone can get into and enjoy to its fullest.
    Take care ,

  42. & i’ll hum those crazy love tunes
    on my way down to the subway

    Gosh, Claudia,
    You’ll be humming a lot of tunes considering the expanse of the subway network. I avoided it by taking the short ride straight to Times Sq. At odd times I would go to the WTC (these were standing then) NYC had so much to offer, Broadway especially. My journeys to the WTC was mainly to get same-day Broadway tickets which were considerably cheaper. Those were the days!

    Hank

  43. Claudia- first of all- I just wanted to say thank you for your thoughtful comments on my poem the other day. Much appreciatted. Secondly- this is fantastic. What a beautiful way to describe a city. You recite a love story, steeped in history and all of the life and events that occur within it. Just love your writing style.

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