1. For the man loading mannequins into the back of a truck in the rain.

There are sirens somewhere uptown,
and the mannequins' hollow necks are becoming teacups for rain water.
He is holding her around the waist, rolling her down the sidewalk.
The rain is not letting up, and he hurries,
trying not to topple the hourglass.

They stand patiently on the curb while he lifts them
one by one onto the truck bed,
the dirty leather of his palms like gentle tiger paws.

And despite the rain, they do not slump,
but stand tall like dancers:
their perfect postures reminding him of
so many places he would rather be.

2. To the man sitting on the fire hydrant on 39th and 8th.

You are not old enough to be my grandfather,
your wrinkles tucked neatly into your plaid collared shirt.
Face offered upwards, eyes closed, you are collecting sunrays
to take back with you into the air conditioning.

You are as still as a gargoyle, as frail as a praying mantis.
The traffic and passersby are just whispers in the folds of your ears.
Someone honks, and you breathe in,
the sun baking you like a croissant in the mid-day light.

3. The Last Time I Apologized.

It was warm and I did not need a sweatshirt.
We stopped in the middle of the block,
a woman with a stroller pushed a pink bundle past us.
You planted your feet firmly when I said your name.
A truck on the street rolled over a grate,
the metal clanging filled the air like a speech bubble between our faces.

My fingers found my elbows, my neck bone, the hem of my pants.

Down the block, a man in a dirty apron came outside for a smoke,
wiped his hands on his lap and lit a cigarette, calling over his shoulder,
Si, claro.  Pero uno momento por favor.


Sarah Kay is a NYC-based poet whose work has taken her uptown, downtown, and out of town.  She is the
Founder and Director of Project V.O.I.C.E., which promotes creative self-expression among high school
and college students through writing and Spoken Word workshops. 
For more information please see

I was born and raised in Manhattan; a fact I never thought was particularly extraordinary until I got to college, where I was surrounded by suburban-raised friends who were thrilled and curious about my upbringing. After almost two years of constant travel, I returned home to New York this summer, and was thrilled to have time to fall back in love with this peculiar place.  I started keeping track of little moments that tickled me, or struck me as particularly New York.  The first two parts of this poem were mental snapshots of people that I discovered in my wanderings, and the third part is a memory of another time.


Copyright 2009