The Apple

      * * *

He was Scared I’d Forget

      Smile, Chile




The Apple


The sin of the city is the people jaded to their brothers’ wonder walking past them,

the tremors of subways and taxis, the undulating waves of people past people through


passing unknown women beautiful enough to teach them and men wild and austere

     enough to steal their soul;

the masses running, breathing sweat onto the buildings, talking winds down the avenues

     stirred with their hurried steps;

ages of cement on cement in subways, flags the color of steal rafters, trembling veins

     teaming with blood cells battling fear;

streets where no one has seen the sky for decades, eyes lustless, jaded, past looking for

     the wild love of life,

restless skittering without ever feeling the rush of living in a stranger’s gaze that just


wildlife dead on the doorstep of centuries, trees reaching for an artificial sun;

the mad, lonely dreamings of the violinist, mad smile, mad song, breaking the drag just

     long enough to forget—

lights dancing without shadows exposing secret love nooks lying naked in alleys with the

     dying truths of grass stains and graffiti;

smiles giving into one last fight in the frenzy of people alone in a daze of people past

     people, so many their auras cross each other out,

and you can make an excuse not to look.





                                    * * *


No no no no

the human soul is not breaking

even if they’re telling us to walk straight and never deviate

even if they’re cracking all our bones and telling us it’s fate

even if they’re paving out the road

with the schools, and the weddings, and the jobs

and they keep us marching

so we can’t look for the love poems we’ve lost.

Because take away the schools and the career paths,

the non-stop expressway through socialization, marriage, 9-5, retirement, death

and we are the third world,

struggling tobacco fields swaying in the winds of war,

we are magic in our innocence

seducing strangers with a word

and the first world’s fighting world wars for our cherries

just to see how far our virginity will go.

’Cause we’ve raped Africa and Asia and we’ve pornographied their streets

their bananas on our corners and their diamonds at our feet

fifteen cents for every child letting our dicks have their way

in a factory for barbie dolls that opens 5 o’clock each day.

’Cause their innocence is dying in the sweatshops of our greed

and I’m wondering who noticed our America bleed.


And I know that we are angels with the sunlight on our backs

the America of dreamers with our freedoms on the rack.

Where’s the call for revolution for the rights we thought we had?

Where’s the fight for speaking freely when this country gets me mad?

Where’s America that’s criss-crossed by a lonely, one-way bus

all the way to San Francisco through the sun, and grass, and dust?

Where’s America of schoolrooms where the lesson was a song?

Where’s America the beautiful who righted what was wrong?


’Cause I’ve seen schoolrooms where diplomas weren’t lined up on the walls

where the students talked of passion and of living in the halls,

where the teachers were for teaching and they taught us to be strong.

and there was no talk of failure, just our loves, and dreams, and songs.

I dream of reading to a crowd that’s lined up out the door

just like Ginsberg and Millay did on their wild, cross-country tours.

I dream of sitting in cafés with the moonlight peaking in

seeing art and music in the shimmer on your skin,

talking about living and of words and sighs and sin,

giving in to freedom and giving in to whims,

seeing all the world around me and standing for a toast

to the song of people seeing all the beauty of the earth.

I dream of riding out to ‘Frisco with Kerouac and Dean

seeing all their love-sights like they saw it in their dreams.

And I’m thinking,

give me freedom, give me back my right to speak,

let me look out at my brothers and pull them back to me

let me spill my anger on them so that I can make them see

that none of them are failures, and none of them are lost

they’re just told to walk a straight line

when the human heart is curved.







He was Scared I’d Forget


Every time I pass the house—

chipping white paint with crawling rose bushes,

a beware of dog sign nailed to the fence,

the grey-shingled roof you climbed on to prove your daring

drooping and sagging in places,

I want to open the door on its rusted hinges

and visit the mice that are eating

the first loves we left in your basement

where we took apart the couch and jumped on the springs

and played charades and Monopoly Jr.

until we first discovered truth or dare

and spin the bottle,

though we never ended up kissing anyone.


I want to see the spider webbed ghost mirrors

play back the day when Mama dropped me off

and I stayed the night.

Way past our bedtime,

because you were too cool and too old for rules,

you crept down and stayed up talking to me

until we heard a robber and armed ourselves with bats

only to find it was your grandma

wondering why we were still up at 11:00

and sent you to bed,

but you came back down when the sun came up

and we watched Saturday morning cartoons

like every American six-year-old girl wants to do

with the boy she’s in puppy-love with.


Every time I pass the house

I wonder if the mice made good work of your bedroom

with its 50’s Coca-Cola wallpaper

and brand new Macintosh computer

which you knew all the tricks to.

I wonder if they remember the corner

where Molly curled up and died one night,

sleeping in her usual place by the stairs,

her sad eyes turned out by old age and new, young collies

scaring me so much I screamed

and you had to save me,

as always.


Smile, Chile

Smile, chile,
ain’t seen ya do it in a while.
You’se been thinkin’, ain’t no use in wastin’ one mo’ day.
Smile, chile, ain’t no point in livin’ this way.

Smile, chile, you’se not givin’ up,
life ain’t pretty an’ it's sho’ rough.
But you’ll last, you'll jus’ go on,
ya gotta live it 'til it's done.

Smile, chile,
ain’t seen ya do it in a while.
It ain’t so bad to flaunt yo’ stuff,
jus’ live it up—ain’t all that rough.


Poems by Anya Raskin



respiro@2000-2004 All rights reserved