jolie laide

jolie laide

I started this when I lived in Brooklyn and struggled for grace in a city that grants moments of beauty and ugliness breathtakingly close to one another. Now I live in a place where things are a different kind of ugly and the beauty is pedestrian. I struggle with that.


The poetry in this day is in the slivers between this and that. Or the differences between here and there. The counterpoint, the rough edge, the 18 degrees off center.

They are pulling up the concrete in front of the old Algemeiner Daily building again. Last week there was fresh cement, a lace of raw sewage, the remnants of a burst main. I pass them drilling. My feet are moving at one speed but my hand wants to be a cardinal, making the shape of the wing, the breast, the fold of the feet, the determination of the beak.

Fall has come early, a surprise, and it forces me to the other side of the street seeking light. They film a TV show here now and people have made a game of identifying buildings, making matches. Someone says “the Bialystoker Home for the Aged is the New Zealand Consulate” and I stifle my mirth until tears come to my eyes.

I go out at midday for a good, 4-dimensional coffee, the kind that is so gritty and deep it bends time. I have been trying to get numbers to tell me a story but they are being a maze instead. Double-back, blind-alley, the slow blank blinking of no discernable pattern. But still I have this soaring joy, this rusty bucket is found beautiful, this spotted apple asks to be bitten, this gorgeous noise in my head swells and here there are no shadows.


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