Prize Poetry

The City That Never Sleeps

by a young woman, age 16

 

1. new york
these cities that
we definitely own
so many people
but still completely alone

2. graffiti
leaving your mark
meant leaving yourself
hoping to spark interest
in someone else
but darling,
you have forgotten
only the broken-hearted
look out the subway window

3. sidewalk
stretching endlessly
into horizons
side by side;
not
necessarily
together

4. caffeine
running, going, gone,
avenues too long
hair unruly, unrested
silence detested
hands always jittering,
coffee hangovers anew
will the story ever progress
when you’re stuck on page two?

5. alley
deviants,
addictions,
shortcuts,
& sex.

6. broadway
pointed toes, jazz hands
broken dreams
from the stands
open hearts, wide eyes
seeking acceptance
‘one more time’.

7. taxi
whiplash can never
replace the time
we crashed hearts
and bumped thighs

8. homeless
awnings are blessings
spare change, please?
still a dreamer
wandering,
but not lost
without a house,
without clean clothes
but still
rich

9. club
hard liquor
the monster
which makes
the music louder,
the dancing quicker,
the hands slip lower,
the eyes to fall
shut.

10. traffic
inching,
crawling,
forwards,
halt
wrong turn,
switch lanes,
swerved,
stop
broken glass,
airbags,
imploded doors,
orphanage,
shell-shock,
never-more.

11. strangers
bumped into each other
not anymore
four years later
he’s out the door
we tend to forget
it always starts
and ends
the same

12. rooftop dinner
big city view
big city price
big city diamonds
(he must really
like you)

13. empire state building
top floor
low esteem
don’t look;
you might
want
to fly

14. pigeon
rats with wings
seeking french fries,
messages,
and dreams

15. street performer
kennedy center sleeping
central station dreaming
case open, hats off
counting change for
a better corner

16. apartment
needing more rooms
even if
you can only be in
one at a time

17. barre, bar
both your warm-up
and your mental state
depend on it

18. central park
escapist? realist?
the safety bubble
around the chaos
we sleep with

19. homesick
moving away from the
tornadoes
only leaves them within

20. rainstorm
trekking alone in this rain
will leave you more comfortable
than walking in the sunshine
by her side
they should start naming these storms
after people

21. birthday
welcome to the next chapter:
your romantic impulse
surges,
your heart
races,
your mind
flourishes,
and dissatisfaction
persists
"you're too
young to
hate so much"