That Coffee Shop In Brooklyn

A parade, street markets, protests; it was end of summer in New York City. “Oy, I can’t deal with crowds, today,” said I. Naturally, I fueled up my private jet and set off for a trip to Palm Springs. This scenario happened in my head. Here’s what really happened.

Randomly, I hopped on the subway to escape the crowds gathered for a parade on my street. I planned on eating Chinese at my favorite mom n’ pop’s restaurant in the Village. The need for escapism persisted, while riding on that downtown train. “I need a day trip to an exotic land, I just don’t spend enough time in,” said I.

“This is a Brooklyn bound 3 train,” announced the train conductor. “That’s it, I am going to Brooklyn. It may not be Palm Springs, but by George, it’s certainly a different island,” said I. Excitedly, the train traveled underneath the very depth of the East River. “Hello, island getaway,” I proclaimed.

After a long voyage, I felt slightly jet lagged (hold the time zone change) and emerged from the subway. “Boom, hello crowds. Shit, it’s another street festival. I thought I was going to escape this,” said I. Frustration turned into euphoria. I starred at the signs, which dazzled my eyes. “Oh, it’s the Brooklyn Book Festival,” said I, with eyes open wide with joy.

I excitedly wandered around the tents, browsing the titles. Poetry, LGBT literature, classics, obscure short stories, there was something for everyone’s literary palate. I was dazzled. This was my kind of day trip. For a moment, I pushed the delete button on my jaded self. After immersing myself in the world of literary candy, I decided to get lost.

The humidity levels rose. I complained. “Oy, I can’t. It’s like I am taking shower in my own sweat,” said I, while schvitzing up a storm. Then I found an adorable coffee shop in Cobble Hill. The breeze of a well-fused air conditioner beckoned my heat sensitive senses. I bought an ice latte and pulled out my notebook. Finally, I was able to relax. It was heavenly and had the benefits of a proper trip to Palm Springs.

I took one more trip around the book festival. Shedding a tear, I returned to Manhattan. “Oh Brooklyn, you may have more baby strollers and hipsters than the average borough, but you still now how to charm a Manhattanite,” said I. Returning to Harlem, the noise and crowds welcomed me from a long voyage.

The beating drums of the parade shook my apartment building. However, I was oblivious to its effects. Instead, I reveled in my unexpected day of literary and caffeinated delights. “New York, I still love you, even with your endless street festivals and fondness of parades,” proclaimed I.

Beatnik Heartbeat

In my last year of suburban innocence, I took one bold step. Upon entering a darkened basement, my eyes gazed into an unexpected sight. The intensity of a beating drum romanced my senses.

“I am the party star. I am popular,” sang the band. They were covering the anthem of 90’s teenage angst, popular. Quirky artwork filled the walls of the basement. The brightness served as a lighted candle. People sat in Indian style, bobbing their heads to the music. I smiled from ear to ear. Along with my friend, Nicky, we were taking in the intoxicating bohemian surroundings in the midst of our conservative town.

We joined the other revelers and sat Indian style. It was my first foray into open mic night at Back to the Grind, our local independent coffee house.

Poets went up on stage. Each spoke eloquently of their life experiences. Nervously, I fidgeted with my notebook paper. After one poet turned his poetry into a musical number to remember, the stage was left empty. I took a deep breath and galloped on stage.

The spotlight hit my face. It was harsh and intensified, when I read the first lines of the poem. I The words flowed with a proper theatrical accent. I took one last breath and quickly read the poem without stuttering. The audience clapped. I bowed and that marked my debut as poet. “This is going to be me, forever, audience applause, thought, I.

Years went by, and I didn’t write poetry. Instead, I wrote plays and short stories. Then one day, while sitting in a most cliché of surroundings, an East Village coffee shop. I opened up my $1 black marble notebook and filled the blank pages with a spontaneous poetry. “I’m back, I declared.

Soon, I immersed myself in New York’s poetry scene, attending reading after reading. Secretly, I longed to have the spotlight on my own work. My opportunity arrived.

A poet friend told me of open mic night at the Sidewalk Café in the East Village. Joyfully, I decided to share my poetry with an audience.

That day, the skies above Astor Place were an inspirational shade of hazy grey. I made my way through east Seventh Street. Nerves were ignited like fireworks over a darkened sky. “Oy, I need to go in front of perfect strangers and reveal my soul. This sounded wonderful an hour ago. Am I mad? Asked I, walking toward Alphabet City.

I took a seat on a bench in leafy Tompskin’s Square Park, Central Park’s grungy cousin. A sweet melody seduced my senses. “What is this most serenading sound?” asked I. To the corner of my eye was a folk band playing harmonious music. Instantly, my anxiety levels subsided.

“I just need to relax. This is the East Village, where (beat poet) Allen Ginsburg was inspired and famous punk bands played. I am joining a grand tradition of creative types inspired by the clash of folk music and grit, which engulf the landscape,” said I.

I left the comfort of a park bench for the venue. “ Nervousness, what the fuck is that?” asked I, practically skipping into the bar. The nervous fireworks returned. I stared into the crowd, which was half hipster and thought “I don’t think they’re going to get my poetry.

With great bravery, I signed up. “I’ll take a glass of wine and a burger,” said I to the waitress. “Food and wine will help ease my nerves,” thought I. An uneasy feeling lingered.

The first poets stepped on stage. “Sex, cultural differences and body image issues are going to be covered & the audience will applaud,” were my initial thoughts. “Fuck, I am genius, declared I. Most of the poems revolved around those topics. The audience ate it up like a warm knish on freezing cold day.

My name didn’t come up. “That’s weird I signed up for open mic, when am I going to be called? Asked I. After one last poem about lesbian desires, intermission happened. Suddenly, I was called up for the poetry slam, where one gets judged for their work. “Fuck, I signed up for open mic. This has to be a mistake,” said I.

I had preconceived ideas on a poetry slam. Shrugging my shoulders, I gave it a whirl. The first poet went up, she read a poem about Billy Holliday, which she later turned into a story about sex. “Oy, this story makes me happy to be gay, “ thought I.

The audience clapped. She left the stage. With much shock, she was given a score by random judges. “Shit, they’re giving out scores? You get judged for bearing your soul? How can people give out scores for this?” asked I with a swift eye roll.

Escaping was not a viable option. Soon, I went on stage. I made a joke. Nobody laughed. Then I read my poem to an ocean of emotionless faces. The experience was a speedy one. I finished and left the stage. The audience clapped, politely.

My score was low, very low. Oh, my poor poetic soul free fell into disappointed. I kept a brave demeanor, but bolted out of the venue after the show ended.

“This was such a disappointment. My first show in years and nobody got me,” said I. Like many disappointed writers before me, I took an obvious step.

“Dad, the show sucked. Everybody hated me. I don’t think I want to do this again,” said I, on the phone. My dad with a giggle responded, “You had the guts to go up on stage. I am proud of you. So, you feel like shit now, but you’re the type to just keep on going, no matter how much people hate you. After an uplifting conversation, I dusted myself off and carried on.

Rather, than feeling like a failure, I walked crosstown to the subway. “ This is only the beginning and fuck, if I didn’t do well on this show. My poetry-reading journey has just begun. While crossing Fifth Avenue, I let out the following words, “fuck it.” From there, I planned my next performance. More importantly, I know I did something right, when a group of silly hipsters just didn’t get it.

The Magical Flute

A Seed was buried in dirt.

It was insignificant, on the fringe and awkward.

Other plants sprung from the ground.

Growing flowers of yellow hues, Kelly green leaves and exotic vegetables.

The little seed was still buried in dirt.

Then came torrential rain and the seed disappeared.

A magical rainbow accompanied the seed as it grew into a modest plant.

As seasons passed, the plant was pregnant with lemons.

The growth spur continued.

Soon, the plant towered over all the vegetation and lemons wouldn’t stop dropping.

As years passed, people died.

People were born & the plant kept growing with more lemons

Soon, the modest seed morphed itself into a bean stock, towering over the village.

It hid the village from the sun and caused sunny days to fade into black.

The bean stock stood still, not even heavy winds could make it dance.

One day, it heard the sounds of magical flute.

It finally wanted to dance with the rhythm.

Thanks to the mesmerizing flute, the bean stock revealed sunny days again.

A Lullaby And Snowstorm

Traffic horns and yellow cabs flooding Central Park South.

Steam rolling from a power plant. It paints a scenic landscape on East Fourteenth Street.

Fur coats rushing through the frenetic pace of Grand Central Station.

The Upper East Side retaining quaintness as it slowly fades into a steel and glass world.

Pigeons flocking to gourmet bread crumbs on a bitterly cold East Village morning.

The car horns, loud conversations and sirens collide with inner peace.

Snow falling! It creates slush, floods the sidewalks, reeking havoc & developing quirky memories.

Welcome back to the city, where boredom comes to die.

Ketchup In The Eyes

Frustration lies in a thin bottle of ketchup.

The agony to drench French-fries in a tomato-y heaven.

Only drops of watery ketchup fall from the fogged in bottle.

In a perfect land, ketchup would fall like water from a fountain.

It would replace the mighty rivers and ocean.

Tomatoes must then grow in abundance to keep the land lush.

Bringing the potato to its knees.

The Leaves Of Central Park

Gold leaves, brown leaves, fiery red leaves

buried in snow, covered in dirt.

Sun shining over a pristine lake, sledding the impossible terrain.

Red leaves, gold leaves, dirt covered brown leaves

floating through the sky.

Looking for a home in the wind.

Brown leaves, red leaves, solid gold leaves wondering in New York.

Flying toward the pavement, but eventually falling into green grass.

Traffic Jam Of The Poetic Mind

Haiku, narrative, soliloquies make my heart pound with beautifully illustrated words. Poetry is therapy for the grid locked brain. This is a form of writing which is expressive and all around fun. Like most interesting experiences in life, I fell into poetry rather than seeking it out.

As a high school student, my mom grounded me for a month. Due to a bad report card, I could not watch TV or listen to music. Home became a four-wall hellhole. In order break free, I had to rely on my own creativity to substitute for cool tunes. During that time, we were studying poetry in school.

During my month confinement, I discovered the Harlem renaissance through Langston Hughes’ eloquent words. The Leaves of Grass by Walt Whitman and Maya Angelou’s poetry opened up my senses like spicy Indian curry on a rainy London night. Not only, did I admire many poets I also wanted to write my own poetry.

Growing up in a very traditional American home, I had a curiosity about the world outside my own community. It inspired my poetry. I wrote about Paris, Cubism, cigarette smoking, the Mediterranean and even homoerotic thoughts. I kept all my poetry quietly hidden in a three whole notebook with a Versace advertisement as the cover.

My goal was to share my poetry. I went to my first open mic night in college. The poets were grand. It was in the basement of this old independent coffee house. In the middle of summer, it was a gathering place for humidity and intense heat along with free thinkers.

However, poetry served as an exodus for the uncomfortable conditions. The poets were very talented and even performed free-style rap and songs they wrote, which intensified the poetic experience.

They were a tough act to follow up, but I gave it a shot. I went up on stage and was schvitizing (sweating) under the bright spot light. The crowd had faded into the darkness.

The first couple seconds of my story of rhymes was intimidating, but then I warmed up to the idea and soon my confidence grew. I made it through my first poetry reading. The audience applauded as I whipped the sweat off my brow.

From then on I continued with poetry readings. The open mic stages of obscure basements felt as cozy as my modest New York apartment.

As I grew older, I also expanded my appreciation for poets, reading the works of Allen Ginsberg, Sylvia Plath and Gertrude Stein. The four wall confinement I experienced as a youth brought a revival of creative thinking. Therefore bringing my mind from traffic jammed Fifth Avenue to a speedy Downtown 4 express train.

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