Poem: Midtown Listing
September 02, 2021
Start the poem with
an 8-foot steel egg
and a Halal Boys food cart.
Toss in red and yellow umbrellas,
and picture a mostly bald man smoking a cigarette,
four electric bicycles,
an American flag,
the Warwick Hotel,
a bed of myrtle
(Don’t count the myrtles
It will take you too long,
but say the bed is green,
or, even better, verdant).
And never lose sight of
the Soap Mobile,
the sidewalk, and
West 54th Street.
Get a cab in there, too.
Are you ready?
©Susan Thomsen, 2021, draft
Heidi Mordhorst has the Poetry Friday roundup on September 3rd.
Photo by ST, August 2021. The sculpture, "SEED54" (2012) by Haresh Lalvani, is on the southeast corner of Sixth Avenue and 54th Street, NYC.
NYC is such a welcoming site, Susan. Thanks for bringing it back to me. I actually have not see the city since last February when I went in for a doctor's visit. It holds such charm and there is always so much to see. I am ready to jump into your photo and poem.
Posted by: Carol Varsalona | September 03, 2021 at 08:35 AM
You are welcome, Carol. Thank you for reading! I must have passed this steel egg many times before I noticed it recently. I'm trying to slow down to see (and hear) more.
Posted by: Susan T. | September 03, 2021 at 08:41 AM
I enjoyed this cataloguing of a moment.
I had to laugh about "verdant"! Poets always want to pull out "verdant," but I love the specificity of "myrtle."
Also "Soap Mobile" is great. Like what a very clean superhero drives :)
Posted by: Tabatha | September 03, 2021 at 12:01 PM
Hi, Tabatha. I feel like I got so lucky having the Soap Mobile show up in the picture. Who knew! Yes, the cataloguing of a moment; that's it. I didn't think I had anything to write about so I started looking through photos.
Posted by: Susan T. | September 03, 2021 at 04:04 PM
I enjoyed the voice in your poem, "your" voice, that I was sorry the poem ended, but you made me laugh and smile at the parts you chose. I've not been very often, but have loved my visits to wonderful NYC, always a cab! I am sorry for the recent tragedies.
Posted by: Linda Baie | September 03, 2021 at 10:58 PM
Linda, yes, always a cab in the landscape! Thanks for stopping by. This last storm was awful! We largely escaped major damage in my CT town, but so many other parts of the tristate area, including the city, were hard hit.
Posted by: Susan T. | September 04, 2021 at 09:25 AM
I love a good list poem. There's something so...giving? about it. It doesn't demand much except for our willingness to slow down and listen to the poet's recitation and observation of the things I'm too busy to notice for myself!
Posted by: Laura Purdie Salas | September 04, 2021 at 09:34 AM
What a fun list! The details in the poem had me looking back at the photo to find all I'd missed. What a "snapshot" of NYC!
Posted by: Mary Lee | September 04, 2021 at 09:46 AM
Laura, I am a HUGE fan of lists and found poems/art. Someone's grocery list on the ground? I'm gonna read it!
Mary Lee, I almost wrote it as an "I Spy" poem. (And that "myrtle" just may be pachysandra, but I decided to keep the myrtle.)
Posted by: Susan T. | September 04, 2021 at 09:56 AM
I love the gentle mix of ingredients stirred into your poem Susan. It brings me back to Midtown where I resided for just over 4 years, on 48th Street. The combining of a single image and the format of a list poem has been seamlessly connected.
Posted by: Alan j Wright | September 04, 2021 at 09:44 PM
I love this, Susan! It simultaneously brings back wonderful memories, and makes me miss, being in NYC.
Posted by: Elisabeth | September 05, 2021 at 04:25 AM
What a wonderful listing! So specific and one-of-a-kind!
Posted by: Ruth | September 05, 2021 at 09:41 AM
Such a cool hidden picture NYC poem, Susan! Visiting NYC is on my bucket list and your poem/picture is exactly why I want to go there - so. much. to. see. and. experience. :)
Posted by: Bridget Magee | September 05, 2021 at 02:12 PM
Thanks, Alan! If you lived in that area, you might like Rebecca McClanahan's book of essays "In the Key of New York City" (Red Hen Press 2020), which is about the experience of living in the city in the early 2000s.
Elisabeth, NYC walks are the best, right? It's nice to see the city getting back on its feet.
Thank you, Ruth. Lists are great fun to fiddle with, I think.
Bridget, yes, so much! I must have walked past that giant steel egg MANy times before I ever noticed it. Everywhere has juxtapositions, of course, but in New York, they can be particularly fun. (And maddening/heartbreaking/etc., but that's another poem...)
Posted by: Susan T. | September 05, 2021 at 02:38 PM
I just came from Amy LV's post entitled "Look Outside, Note the Date." Indeed. I love the way the egg is listing to the left. I love the parenthetical piece--take your time, but not too much time. In Brooklyn on Fri and Sat I remembered how specific the culture and how changed it must be since I lived there 1986-1991, how different the problems people cleverly solve and how differently they solve them than in other places, other cities. Wonderful.
Posted by: Heidi Mordhorst | September 06, 2021 at 03:46 PM
Thanks for the heads up about Amy's poem. I will run over & take a look. Thank you. We must have overlapped a few years in NYC, Heidi. (I now live nearby but not in city.) How fun to see your old stomping grounds!
Posted by: Susan T. | September 06, 2021 at 09:57 PM
I loved this I Spy poem. I think that is a form that is going on my "To Write" list. I love how many times I had to keep going back to view the photo again. Lovely!
Posted by: Denise Krebs | September 10, 2021 at 12:34 PM
Thanks, Denise! This one came about because I didn’t think I had anything to write about.
Posted by: Susan T. | September 10, 2021 at 05:12 PM