Monday, October 25, 2010

Two poems by John Yohe

New York

New York I can’t live here anymore you are bad for my complexion
New York my apartment is a five-story walk-up has no circulation
New York the Cuban grandmother in the next building wakes me up every morning talking out the window on the phone
New York there’s a crying baby too; there’s always crying babies
New York I finally bought black jeans now I wear black all the time

New York I will miss your French movies
New York you are filled with good-looking women and they’re smart too; they read books
How come I can’t meet any of these women New York?
New York I like that there’s no snow in the winter, but it’s still too cold and you’re too expensive
New York I can’t decide between a book of poetry or a porno mag, the porno mag is cheaper
New York you are not America though you think you are America
You should hear what the rest of the country says about you New York, though I know you don’t care

New York there are eight million people here who haven’t heard a coyote howl and it scares me that people talk about Central Park as a place to get away from it all
New York I’m starting to think so too
New York I haven’t see Woody Allen yet but his movies are true: everyone does see a therapist
And I haven’t seen your S&M clubs, I can’t afford those either New York
New York I can’t afford the symphony, or Broadway, or even dinner out no wonder women don’t like me
New York I will miss your bookstores
New York your policemen have no necks; neither do the police women
New York you’re closing the strip bars now everyone has to go to Brooklyn or Queens
New York I consider Brooklyn a quiet neighborhood
New York you don’t realize how funny that is

New York I like your museums, though they could be cheaper
New York I’m obsessed with NPR, I listen to NPR every day
I don’t have a tv or a dvd player if I did I’d stay in all the time
New York you don’t look happy
It’s the suits how can anyone be happy in suits?
New York even the dogs ignore me, even poodles!
New York I’m waiting for those poodles to tear the throats of their rich old ladies
I’m waiting for weeds to crack the sidewalks
I’m waiting for whales to swamp the Staten Island Ferry
I’m waiting to see the Milky Way again
I’m waiting for the number five train while I watch the rats


So goodbye dogshit on the sidewalks
goodbye overflowing garbage cans
goodbye Guliani and goons
goodbye Righteous Jewish Lesbian MFA Language Poet students, you will get the poetry audience you want & deserve
goodbye bad New Yorker poetry
goodbye Helen Vendler
goodbye Village Voice, I hope you find some good writers (loved your cartoons though)
goodbye Wall St. businessmen, call me when you want to go backpacking (ha ha)
goodbye loud fucking neighbors everywhere
goodbye punks
punks on the subway
punks on the streetcorners
punks in the movie theatres
punks even in poetry workshops

but goodbye too, to things I liked:
goodbye sexy women
goodbye waterfall in Central Park (even though man-made)
goodbye St. Mark’s Bookstore
goodbye art-house movie theatres my sanctuary
goodbye Asian Art section at the Met; landscapes, sexy goddesses & plum branches
goodbye other sections, the moderns
goodbye MOMA, Picasso, Klimt

though goodbye to people who said they’d call me
goodbye crowded subways
goodbye noisy streets
goodbye people with SUV’s in the fucking city
goodbye Lorca’s grey sponges
goodbye six-fifty for a six-by-twelve room (& that was a good deal!)


The Frida Kahlo Blues

Frida you got on the bus in Phoenix today at 44th looking so beautiful and young pre-accident
You had your black hair pulled back and you were wearing a catholic school girl uniform
And that sexy eyebrow Frida
Frida I once wrote a poem about mexican catholic schoolgirls in the Museo Rufino Tamayo in Mexico City
They looked so sexy smiling and giggling I know that’s perverted but I don’t care it’s in a poem so no one will ever know because no one reads poetry especially not the FBI
Frida when Kandinksy walked into that gallery in Paris in 1939 and saw your paintings he started to cry
Would your art have been as powerful if you hadn’t suffered?
I know that sounds like I wanted you to have suffered but Frida it’s not true I don’t want anyone to suffer except a few key politicians
Frida it’s just that in the movie Crossroads Ralph Macchio’s character is taught by Joe Seneca the old blues man that to play the blues you have to have suffered
Which sounds true Frida
But Ralph of course doesn’t listen or doesn’t understand until Jami Gertz the smokin’ hot run-away he’s fallen in love with leaves him to go to Hollywood without even saying goodbye
Which is nothing really compared to polio and metal poles through pelvic bones and political disillusionment and assassinations of lovers much less cruel though talented husbands
But Frida I feel like Kandinsky whenever I see one of your paintings, or Ralph Macchio in the next scene playing slide guitar in that abandoned house with the rain outside

Author bio:

John Yohe holds a MFA in Poetry Writing from The New School for Social Research, and a MA in The Teaching of Writing from Eastern Michigan University. He has taught composition and creative writing for five years at the community college and university level. His poetry, short fiction, and non-fiction has appeared in journals such as RATTLE, FENCE and THE HAT. A complete list of his publications, and writing samples, can be found at his website: John Yohe

1 comment:

Rick Kempa said...

I dig it, John! "six-fifty for a six-by-twelve." Good lord, man! Get your butt back west.