Writing Portfolio- Karen Zheng Age 17, Grade 12, Stuyvesant High School, Gold Key

Supposedly these animals came from the circus
If you close your eyes you can imagine them dancing
Now open your mind and approach the beast
and touch its wild trunk
It’s not what you expected
rough and hairy when all you’re used to is
New York smooth city
Try to look in her soft brown eyes but suddenly
she’s pulled away and goes back to eating

Swinging around streetlight posts
feet tapping around each other
sliding on cement as if
the city’s ground was cellophane as if
you didn’t keep it down it would rise and wrap you up
Shooting words upwards
cocked already knowing they’d be lost
A ritual circus routine is what you live
You can’t make cellophane a roof of the world

A pigeon’s as wild as it gets by home
Scrutinize the forgotten pigeon corpses
those lifeless flying rats
Choke when car after car storms cartilage
and guts into road when pigeons swoop down
and peck at stale bread sitting next to carcasses
Gaze as silhouettes of the red-eyed fowl
beat their wings against the wind
push themselves forward until they soar
and flock out of tunnels in hordes
Dark winged bullets against glaring headlines
and then the starless sky
you ask if one of them maybe many more than just one
has ever wanted to tuck its wings close against its body and beat itself
against walls and trees and let inertia
carry it to wherever the laws of physics stop
to wherever the desire to succumb to darkness takes over

Watch her wild trunk wrap around stalks
and shove them into her mouth
still alone from far away

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