Pedestrian

By

 

 

 

 

don’t want to go to the well-reviewed movie
The Maid at the Angelika or read Harryette
Mullen’s Recyclopedia or eat chicken soup w/
roast chicken & egg noodles from Kelley & Ping
or buy anything in any superb boutique except
a slightly elliptical stoneware sugar bowl w/ a
smooth top & elegant spoon I’ve been
looking for that for years no one has that
or write a poem even though I vowed
to write one every day in November or walk
to the Asian grocery on Mott & Canal to buy
katsuobushi & rice sticks & usukuchi &
bamboo shoots & rice wine vinegar so I can
cook my way through the Momofuku cookbook
I’ve made pickled cauliflower so far which was delightful
I don’t want to have coffee or not have coffee
or listen to the This American Life podcast on infidelity
which makes me tired b/c I don’t want to have sex w/
anyone just want my dear husband to
read me A Game of Thrones by George RR Martin
while I lie in bed with a buckwheat eye pillow
are you scandalized by my admission of love
for genre fiction? where are our kids in this
fantasy? let’s be movie parents whose kids never
intrude on the viewer’s enjoyment I don’t want
to stop at this espresso bar or that one or that one
or even live in NY anymore or go to the day care
before I teach at the 92nd St Y or not see my son
and feel guilty/trapped wonder why I don’t live
in Maine or have more children or fewer or
how I feel about my parents or poetry or what
constitutes a ‘practical decision’ or finish reading
this NY Times Mag article about the Obamas’
marriage which I took with me in case I didn’t
want to read Mullen I don’t want these poetmom
e-mails w/ cute attachments of kids in Halloween
costumes I hate animals still shouldn’t eat them
this hipster music makes me slightly suicidal
on the subway a discarded newspaper says
another NYU student got through the suicide
barrier at Bobst Library you know one can make
pickles w/ almost anything the radish
pinks everything up nicely but itself goes white
I don’t like the expression ‘in a pickle’ to mean
fucked or out of luck or stuck or down on luck
as pickles are one of the few things I like
especially the daily transformation brought about
by sugar & salt & vinegar today I said My tolerance
for traveling through space & time is increasing daily
I think I was lying why do I imagine someone’s
interviewing me sometimes they are & always
ask about my ‘real life’ & the ‘juggling act’ which is
stupid I’m not juggling my family like eggs or oranges
my bangs are too straight make me look androidal
I should stick to cutting my own hair is this writing
‘work’? Donald Hall says so but I don’t know
I’ve stayed on the local b/c why go nowhere faster
I’m paying for day care anyway so have ‘free
time’—ha HA!— this is a kind of despair (not
needing to be/do anywhere/anything) (I could
disappear perhaps have) also an extravagance
for which we pay dearly—time—the toddler
puts in his time lives there really as I travel the city
hating poetry & my haircut & all the things I do not
want to do the man w/ maroon kerchief gives up
his seat for a large woman who now sits marking
sheet music what should I be doing? dying? I am I
have an idea for a website where mothers shoot
home movies & I upload them as part of my ongoing
project to ‘accurately describe women’s lives’
the woman next to me is reading an FSG book
can’t see the title the man on her left snores
& leans into her please someone remind me what’s
the point of literature? 72nd St & Cathy Wagner’s
book My New Job includes the word PENIS frequently
that’s nice & makes me feel happy like a pinked-up
pickled radish or maybe I should say ‘pinked down’
since radishes start out red but lend their color
to the brine & neighboring veggies as they soak
Please! I’m not ‘relating’ this to the NYC subway
how vile of you to think so I told Matt
taking the shuttle at Times Square during rush hour
causes me serious distress a human tsunami perhaps
we deserve a large-scale population reduction
it seems inevitable I’m dehumanized by NY & my
proximity to others fatal loneliness of crowds
(reading or writing creates a private sphere
in a way that thinking can’t) I sometimes wonder if
I actually have a self that’s ridiculous you want to
witness stream of consciousness? Times Square’s your
destination the Spanish lovely indecipherable noise
a pleasure not to understand I imagine it’s not all
banal & meaningless like my own daily communication
of course those aren’t synonyms the banal is often full
of meaning a woman coughs all over my air everyone’s
scared to die except the people who aren’t Jeremy said
Death as an idea is scary but as a process quite natural
I like him & the way he makes me feel smarter
than I am even though he doesn’t like the way I respond
in interviews doesn’t buy the James Schuyler line
I often quote “I have always been more interested
in truth than in imagination” Jeremy thinks I’m
selling myself short selling short is what Jeremy
as a hedge-fund manager actually does are these
associative games worth their weight in ink? he’d
sell this short I bet this poem’s possibly timely
not likely timeless which someone once said
separates poetry from the pedestrian

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“Pedestrian” appears in The Pedestrians by Rachel Zucker © 2014, Wave Books. It has been reprinted with permission of the author and Wave Books.


Rachel Zucker has lived in New York City for almost her entire life. She is the author of several poetry collections, including Museum of Accidents (2009), a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award and named one of the best poetry books of the year by Publishers Weekly; The Last Clear Narrative (2004); and Eating in the Underworld (2003). Her memoir, MOTHERs, was just released by Counterpath Press. With poet Arielle Greenberg, Rachel co-authored Home/Birth: A Poemic (2010). She was trained as a birth doula and a childbirth educator but is not currently attending births or teaching childbirth education classes. She has taught at Fordham University and New York University. More from this author →