These brownstones demand a fedora
and a wailing sax from a Bernard Herman score –
fire escapes, concrete stoops, Philip Marlowes sprouting
from cracks in the sidewalk, arched entryways,
air conditioners punctuating random windows,
abandoned microwave tower a skeleton of steel and rust.
What would it be like to trudge up the steps
to those old apartments and sip two fingers of rye
that tastes of pepper and dust while the trench coat
dries on the radiator? There’s a billiards sign
cantilevered over the sidewalk, a faded ad
for Goodyear Tires painted on dirty brick.
Moore Paints and Old Grist Mill Wheat Coffee, too.
I want to build this city in miniature
on a plywood sheet big as my living room
with crosswalks masked and airbrushed
on roads made from asphalt shingles,
carve brick patterns into polystyrene foam
with steel ruler and X-Acto knife
and dry brush with red to preserve the grout.
I’d make concrete from epoxy putty,
glue sand and green flock for dirt and grass,
back laser-cut window sills with clear acrylic,
throw in photoetch, styrene angle bars, and streak
with washes, grime, and rust.
I’d make a river of clear resin in the hall.
Then clock towers and repurposed mills
would take over my bedroom. Avoiding the landlord
like an earthquake or hurricane, I walk these streets
inside and out
Jon Wesick is a regional editor of the San Diego Poetry Annual. He’s published hundreds of poems and stories in journals such as the Atlanta Review, Berkeley Fiction Review, New Verse News, Paterson Literary Review, Pearl, Pirene’s Fountain, Slipstream, Space and Time, and Tales of the Talisman. His most recent books are The Shaman in the Library and The Prague Deception. http://jonwesick.com