Published in Confiscated, 2006.
This piece was written for a class on poetry writing, and it’s the only thing I wrote for that class that I actually like. As an exercise in ekphrastic poetry, we were given postcards with works of art on them to inspire us; I can’t find the exact one I had, but mine looked very similar to the top image. Artist Ernest Lawson did many paintings of the area around Inwood.
I wrote this piece almost all at once very quickly, while sitting in the music building on campus. I might have been waiting for a flute lesson or rehearsal. It’s actually a song, which is true of many of my poems. I had been struggling in the poetry class for a while (I found the prof pretentious, and all the other students were lit majors), but once I started writing it as a song, this one just seemed to click for me.
When I met with the prof to revise this poem (which was the only thing I wrote that he remotely liked, either), he made some suggestions and I dutifully made corrections and handed it in. Then I published the original in the literary magazine, because the corrections ruined the rhythm of the song.
I ended up with a B in the class, which hurt my GPA. It’s the only college course I regret taking. I honestly haven’t written much poetry since.
If I were to publish this again today, I’d rearrange some of the stanzas, swapping the 2nd halves of the choruses so it ends with “You wonder why you’re lonely here…” instead of “They tell you…” and also swapping the second verse stanzas so “Let me see those bright eyes” comes first.