This poem is inspired by a beautiful drive across the Brooklyn Bridge, a foreign friend’s Facebook thread about the dirt and grime of NYC, and a Saturday morning commute to work.

Lonely at 1st Ave. & E. 24th St.

I remember on my birthday
I talked about the Brooklyn bridge
because it stands out in a dirty city.
I have a friend who hates it here and
he’s right, which just goes to show
being right doesn’t mean much.

Now it’s early Saturday morning,
I’m on my way to the library where
I will help people, mostly people
who didn’t keep up. The light in this city
has a relationship with dirt that you’ll never understand unless you spend mornings walking to the subway.

Saturdays at the library there are children,
a proud moment when a small girl says, “Miss Joanna, I used a metaphor,” and then a second later, “or maybe it was a simile.” And I Google it because I can never remember the difference either.

The library is small and the neighborhood is trying, a sixteen years old honors student was shot to death last week and I knew him. The violence in this city has a relationship with a small girl’s metaphor maybe simile that you’ll never understand unless you try, which I don’t quite trust you will.

This morning I’m thinking I had better
find some people who know what I mean when I say, most things that mean something to me are covered in dirt.