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Amber Tamblyn

Amber Tamblyn is the author of Dark Sparkler (Harper Collins, 2015). She has been an actress since the age of nine and lives in Brooklyn, New York. 

By This Poet

3

Epilogue

I took a break from writing about the dead
and drinking from writing about the dead
to walk around my childhood neighborhood.
Everything’s for rent. Or for sale, for ten
times the amount it’s worth.

Palm trees are planted in front of a mural
of palm trees under the Ocean Park Bridge.
In the painting, the metal horses of a carousel are breaking
free and running down the beach. Why didn’t I leave

my initials in cement
in front of my parent’s apartment in the eighties?
Nikki had the right idea in ’79.

I walk by a basketball court, where men play
under the florescent butts of night’s cigarette.
I could have been any of their wives,
at home, filling different rooms in different houses
with hopeful wombs. Agreeing on paint color

samples with their mothers in mind.
I’ll bet their wives let their cats go out
hunting at night like premonitions of future sons.
They will worry, stare out the front window,
pray that privilege doesn’t bring home bad news
like some wilted head of a black girl in nascent jaws.

To say nothing of the owl who’s been here for years. I hear him

when I’m trying to write about the deaths I’ve admired.
I hear him when the clothed me no longer recognizes
the naked. I hear him while writing and shitting and sleeping
where my mother’s seven guitars sleep.
I hear him in my parent’s house,
their walls covered in my many faces,
traces of decades of complacence.

My childhood neighborhood is a shrine to my success,
and I’m a car with a bomb inside, ready
to pull up in front of it and stop
pretending.
 

Untitled

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To A New Dawning

For our New York Cities

From sun’s first shine, we walk all day
through a dream surreal, our minds wander
a new world from inside windowsills.

We go to bed half asleep,
eyes defiant for the crave of news feed,
quenching our dread on the bad blood of blue light
not sent from the moon.

We are devastate-aching,
this can’t be happening,
a nation stationed inside the nightmare
of a leader unfit for awakening.

We grieve in solitary solidarity
for our country, our New York cities; their subways
riding ghosted through the choking channels of our lungs—
those throats that have known
I can’t breathe
far before our collective chests could not.

We grieve for every building of our boroughs,
from section eight to the unfinished skyscraper’s crane.
Buildings busting with bodies or abandoned by them:
bodies that dance, bodies that sleep,
bodies that virtual meet, eat and drink.
Bodies that cease.

We grieve the gravity
of having to die alone
in a city built on never having to be.

And though our bridges are orphaned arches
left to hold up the sky’s condolences,
they still do connect us.

They still do connect us.

Connect us,
to the cabin fever daughters
watching over high fevered grandfathers.
Connect us to the warrior first responders,
nurses and exhausted doctors,
the recovering sick finally taking off ventilators.

Connect us,
to the maskless, the homeless,
the hopeless, the jobless,
our locals: bars, bodegas and bath houses,
our silent Brooklyn streets empty as ancient desert streams
holding only the echoes of ambulance screams.

Connect us,
to the cherry blossoms standing guard in full blush
while cops bloom ribbons of yellow tape at their gates.

Us, connected
by airborne whispers between walkups,
of missed rhythm, longing for the public pull
of prior swagger,

us, connected
by the daydream of lawless rush hour taxis
rubbing up against each other’s paint,
kissing the ears of each other’s rearviews,

us, yearning
for the crowded irritants
of sweltering avenues
budding with beech trees and brisk walkers.

Us, missing
the middle fingers of strangers,
the playlists of basketball courts
and schoolyard sabotage,
the lights bright over Broadway,
lights low in the Bowery,
lights out at The Chelsea
where Sid did in Nancy.

Us, singing
love poems to neighbors over balconies,
from the soapbox of apartment steps,
a Cyrano of stoops.
Connected by the density of front doors,
the clanging of steam hammer pipes
running through our floors
like the floating notes of festival encores.

Us, dreaming,
still dreamers,
for every future hand
we’ll shake, dap and hold

O, how we will hold you

our eyes lifting from the drift,
breaking open, free
to a new dawning—
wake up! See!—
how we hold you, New York cities,
how we hold you, never letting go.