escape from jersey city

peppermint chamomile dreamin’

half-tea fuzzy sleepwalking to

where logic and yogic converge

climbing up the palisades

spiked hands on abstracts

tourniquet in fever-sheets

strands of hair caught in knots

like bark splitting gums from teeth

killing metropolis, called the cops

off the grid, no river too wide to cross—

you know where you’re going,

but do you know where you’ve been?

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ode to NJ

I.

do you know many times we graffitied that overpass
and the next week it washed away?
you wanted to make something lasting,
and I told you this was not how it’s done.

not here, not in this town, at least.

II.

decompression–

I walk wherever feeling leads
when I’m trespassing, the trees own me.

trail runs through the woods, roots roll ankles
the Delaware river and gaps like toddler’s teeth
after hours we trample through dark golf courses
find the tallest hill, dig our heels into the turf
to get a better view of that gritty Philly skyline:

we want makeshift stars, we ignore the nuclear smell.

III.

I don’t know who said Georgia is for peaches, but they were wrong

we have farmer’s markets at every intersection

we bird watch all day long until we’ve dogeared every page in audubon’s guide

we’re not quite rural, not quite urban, and too poor to be suburban

we eat omelets on the porch, tend to our gardens, rub fresh mint between our hands

this is how we pass the time, this is the only way we know how.

IV.

humidity and salty seawater and—
taffys made with the salt of the water and—
the sweat dissipated off blue collars and—
tacky spinning carnivals—
—the ever-patient ferris wheel
—the never-patient passengers
waiting for romance to tip it all over, begin spinning again

the local music scene can learn you how to fight and dance,
show you how to kiss if you don’t already know how
as you grow older, it breaks your heart

me and all my drowning friends turned 25 this year and realized

only the music stays young.

V.

I won’t divulge too much about the diners:
a poorly kept secret that no one believes,
and the best place for a 12am date.

VI.

windows-down drives on open freeways
seventy-five miles-per-hour nonstop
50 minutes to the shore
if you know the right routes (and I do)
tangled wild hair to dodge the cops

abandoned blue quarries with sand the color and feeling of silk
illegal but worth it
2 miles by foot or risk your car in the overgrown thrush
and rumored quicksand

we are coastal and northeastern
we are made for this
we live like Californians in July and Canadians in January

some say the unpredictable weather rubs off
on the residents; I say, after you are born and raised here,
you can go anywhere
and be okay

–if you can get out.

VII.

war monuments
fireworks for every occasion
namesake songs and blown out wicks
ashes fall like summer snow
recon to the revolution

colonists’ bones are buried underneath the ground
in the parks where we went on school nights
when we needed somewhere to smoke
studying light pollution through the T-top

once I brought a metal detector to the banks
and the ranger told me I couldn’t do that here,
that anything I’d find would belong to the state
well, why aren’t you looking then? I asked
it’s as much yours as it is mine and

don’t you want claim to this dirt?

something

     there is something
about the way the sunrise and the mountains
get along
one would not be full without the other
there’d be no glory to frame
for the photographer

     there’s something
in the attraction of complementary colors
earth meets blue
we can go outside and run
death hisses at our heels
a reminder not to stall

and similar somethings
make me want to write
the best of all

     and you mentioned there was enough
     hidden in your sock
     and we could get out
     for months
     if we’re brave

it would be noble,
wouldn’t it?
     to give up
on the knots of everything
      — disentangle —
to find a simple something
gripping on the ends of the rope