Ode to Civilization, et al

Ode to Civilization

Dear Reader,

You jogger, you dog-walker, you aimless rambler of nighttime’s early morning mirage. It is dark dawn and cold. I would like to show you this stretch of river-boardwalk that you deafly stroll through in trance-like states of caffeine oblivion and hallucination; deafly, blindly, thoughtlessly, but not mutely. Be silent and perceive the world through my senses:

The dust-mote glow over the urban horizon

I cannot tell if it is pink or red yet; not even Iris, the master of color, could see this rainbow sunrise for the foggy illusion it is.

Things that seemed factories in sun now appear as glowing cathedrals; I am in Rome and I can see the Sistine Chapel. I am in foreign country-land, and I can still see the stars.

I hear a plane thunder above my head, in ever-paling black sky, now indigo and flat blue.

The bench is cold and ebony-colorless in this light and through it I can feel the ground vibrate with the current of unforgivingEast River.

And soon I hear the echo of another plane, the distant rumble now joined by crying ambulances, police cars, and a dog barks shrill from the park.

The street lamps are still on because it is still dark, and joggers, dog walkers, follow the light.

I hear the jingle of a leash and the same dog howls, a primitive sound, so lonely, am I still in the city?

Now the sky is lighter, lit by sun not yet risen over building tree-tops of distant Roosevelt Island. The sky is not clear navy though – streaked with ivory fluff – a cirrus cloud just now floating above my head, so surreal in my pretend-false-night, less stars are in the sky behind this yawning miasma.

Now I know the horizon is almost scarlet – but too cherry and carroty for blood. Glance quickly; there are roses incarnadine, then orange blanketed by marigolds and almost green vines I think and then it is pale pale water blue and a black black wisp-cloud and the puff-of-a-cigarette – smoke from a small across-the-river-chimney.

Raven night bird flaps across my view and comes back the other way when I think it is lost, and another one joins and disappears in black-stem bridge.

The water is churning, looks so inviting, freezing plunge filth of the city; beautiful indigo deep deep depths of the old world.

It is glass and mirror-murky below the jutting-out lighthouse island of rocky barriers, streetlights, still on, bleed watery lines on water – wet and white-light yellow.

That mysterious lighthouse which I have drawn once and will never draw again, not to dash that first perfect beauty.

Now many inky birds circle vulture-like the city; they are seagulls and I hear them caw, evoking beach and warmth-sea and now-dead grandmothers and crunch of gritty sand. And still the sun has not risen and sends out warning with all-fiery crimson-orange-yellow. It dyes the river now, lightly rippled, delivering its current onward. The light cracks yolk runny upon river-tabletop and sits rotting, pale orange, there tar-dark, on the sidewalk-shell of the water. The river’s surface has that rippling film, that wrinkled top-skin of milk left to meditate too long.

More people trod past; I hear mumbles, more barks, the jangle of keys of the heavy-footfall runners. Now the sun is almost here, the sky lightens, awaits its coming – the heavens are almost paralyzed in ecstasy, anticipation of the sun’s heat. The Stygian metal gate before me, separation from the icy-wet-numbness, sits atop chilly stone-raised-pavement, stretches on forever it seems but I know it will end where it joins the highway and rotting-fish-smell of garbage. Now a long ship groans by me, its name is John Blanche, and it is tired. Passed by a red and sooty empty floating barge, off to collect our trash no doubt. The sun is still not here but it is light and blinding pink lines of clouds hover in the distance. My legs are numb as are my fingers, and the day is fast approaching.

A Villanelle

Damn’d is the demon that frees the foe
Such sacred spirits have not yet been seen
As man’s churning of guilt into sorrow.

I’m told that I’ve so many years to go
Despite poisons of Oak and Paris Green
Damn’d is the demon that frees the foe.

But still, I know this for you told me so
I took birth for granted, as in-between
As man’s churning of guilt into sorrow.

And sprung from my rotting limbs, I shall grow
Delusions of roses incarnadine
Damn’d is the demon that frees the foe.

I have listened of the sleepwalker’s woe
But even these songs aren’t as much a dream
As man’s churning of guilt into sorrow.

My shoulders are burning; they vex me so
I feel pains from which I’ve never been weaned
Damn’d is the demon that frees the foe
As man’s churning his guilt into sorrow.

Musings on the Improvement of Self and the Human Dynamic

Crisscrossed eyes; he is from Johannesburg.
I just read it in a book somewhere I think.
The Blues Brothers were sitting on a porch in the cold sunlight and I couldn’t see their faces in the yellow glare
Jimi stood with eyes of manic intensity, parallel hairs framed symmetrical across a towel
Stretched wide like wide wooden porch
The market was busy, busy with jam and dirt and people
I looked at turquoise gems in pale grey silver eccentricities, meticulous.
“In 30 years, it’ll all be gone,” he says – and I love him like a brother, or a pet dog.

When we slam-stopped in the car, my mother screamed.
My father sits forward, burning angry, and Mommy slams the door to grab a box of nuts.
She’s just cranky; she hasn’t eaten all day
but still my brother is crying; he hides under his coat.
Kept together in captivity so we have formed a friendship of siblingry. I think I will just laugh.

We are lost now, driving in circles, and it is too dark to see. When I am being kind, my family falls apart.
I think it is my hostility that brings them all together; a common enemy will resolve all tensions.

So, we drove to a store. Look at these prices!
Not a little sublunary for this quaint, hippy, mud-town?
It’s beautiful, but my father gets depressed; we walk around and ask about the flood.

I want to hike but we are looking at real estate.
I feel a little too One Percent to look around; I wish I were guiltless.
(This is why I give decade-dollars to singing men on subway cars and $23 to the young woman begging with a baby)
And
When I return I find I have no friends,
Suppose I brought it upon myself with anti-social ramblings and isolation?
Hateful spewing and withdrawing, my insides blazed infernal.

I think I want to be a better person.
To think that Kindness is out of fashion now! I believe that disgusts me; I am rendered misanthropic by the hand of the fad.
I am too peaceful a person to smolder so evilly.
I must reexamine sarcastic humor, and my dry smirks.
Too deadpan, I fear I strike pain into the guts of those who seem to love me.

Yet, I am content with my morbid passions for now.
The world can be rid of me soon.
Perhaps by thirty I will have spontaneously combusted,
or perished from the pangs of ennui.

Jessica Wolfsohn
Age 15, Grade 10
Hewitt School
Gold Key

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