Tuesday, March 13, 2018

"“Looking Out At 42nd Street” by Mary K. O’Melveny

Songs of Eretz Poetry Review is pleased to present “Looking Out At 42nd Street” by Mary K. O’Melveny, a recently retired labor rights attorney who lives in Washington, DC and Woodstock, New York.  O’Melveny’s poetry has appeared in various print and on-line journals, including Allegro Poetry Magazine, GFT Press, The Flagler Review, The Write Place At The Write Time, The Offbeat, Into the Void, and Slippery Elm Literary Journal.  Her poem “Cease Fire” won the 2017 Raynes Poetry Competition sponsored by Jewish Currents Magazine and appears in the anthology Borders and Boundaries.  

Looking Out At 42nd Street
Mary K. O’Melveny

"Buzz" Watercolor on Paper
By J. Artemus Gordon
City rhythms feel electric on my skin.
The Hudson River emits a slight smoky haze.
Hot summer air settles over geometric rooftops, 
copper and glass vie for attention with neon lights.

The Hudson River emits a slight smoky haze
as I stare toward a distant horizon line.
Copper and glass vie for attention with neon lights
while helicopters flit above the water like summer insects.

As I stare toward a distant horizon line,
I wonder if every city denizen feels safe
while helicopters flit above the water like summer insects,
or if the urge to run and hide takes over.

I wonder if every city denizen feels safe
walking street side in the sweltering afternoon
or if the urge to run and hide takes over
even as sunset ripples slowly across the sky.

Walking street side in the sweltering afternoon,
people push past us staring down at bright images.
Even as sunset ripples across the sky,
camera phones are cradled like newborns.

People push past us, staring down at bright images.
Some would call this the center of the universe.
Camera phones are cradled like newborns
as memories are captured in distant clouds.

Some would call this the center of the universe,
but I believe we are just dancing on its surface.
As memories are captured in distant clouds,
city rhythms feel electric on my skin.

Poet’s Notes:  This poem was composed during a visit to New York City in July 2017.  I had just begun experimenting with pantoums.  Somehow, the rhythms of the city seemed perfect for this form of expression.  I am a former New York City resident and always experience a “current” whenever I return to this place of magical energy and multiple contradictions.  I began the poem after looking down from my hotel window onto Times Square many stories below.  After walking to the theatre and back through throngs of tourists and city dwellers alike, these multiple scenes carried me quite naturally to the poem’s ending.  

Editor’s Note:  I was riveted by the narrative of this perfectly constructed pantoum.  My favorite part is the last stanza with its play on the word "clouds." 

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