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.

The East Village

The East Village is one of my favorite slices of the New York pizza pie. I love the history behind it. Knowing that everyone from authors Allen Ginsberg to William S. Burroughs walked its many architecturally distinctive streets amazes me. Although, it’s becoming gentrification central with its big fancy hotels, exorbitant rents & the presence of a certain large university, the neighborhood still has some of its characters & quirks.

On any given day one can see the Talking Heads front man David Byrne riding his bike on First Ave. Village Voice columnist Michael Musto hanging out with bevy of quirky fashionistas on Second Ave. Somewhere on Avenue A, Amanda Lepore (transvestite extradonaire) hides in a hoodie, while walking into an independent boutique.

It’s also my favorite place to grab a cup of coffee & people watch. One chilly December morning, I woke up at my apartment in Queens & desperately wanted a dirty chai latte. Only issue is the only place, which made them, was down in the East Village.

I also had my clothes in the cleaners & my jeans at the laundry mat. Anyone who knows me is aware that I love to dress up. I won’t walk out of my apartment unless my outfit is quite proper. Rare is the day; I’d go out in sweat pants or even a t-shirt.

However, the craving for that dirty chai latte persisted. I did the unthinkable & put on a pair of sweats, hoodie & disguised it all with a pea coat. While, it looked sunny outside, the weather was 20 degrees & my long johns were also at the laundry mat.

So, I took the N train into Midtown & switched trains at 59th & Lex. Feeling naked in sweats didn’t faze me. I was determined to get my coffee craving filled. Everyone looked fashion week cool on the 6 train downtown to Astor Place.

When I walked out of that subway into the chilly East Village air, I had never been colder. However, I pressed on. The funky 1/2 off sushi restaurants, pizzerias & kabob shops of Saint Mark’s Place distracted me from the obvious fashion faux paux & cold weather. Even though I was shivering, the city felt magical.

I reached First Avenue & walked into the coffee house. Seeing the dirty chai latte on the menu was like seeing the Sistine Chapel for the first time. I had to come from a bit of ways to have this amazing experience & it felt euphoric.

I received my drink. However, the cigarette craving kicked in (back when I smoked). The blood in my legs was practically frozen over. Did I really want to smoke in the bitter cold? Cravings persisted & I went outside. Luckily the coffee house had an outdoor bench, ideal for people watching.

I drank my coffee & smoked a cigarette. Trying to play it cool in the freezing cold was a challenge. The dirty chai tasted amazing. I was like a car running on premium gasoline after that chai latte. I made my way back to Queens, one happy boy.

Walking in my sweats around the East Village was liberating. I felt naked, especially in fashion conscious Manhattan. However, the chai latte was well worth it. I love cold weather, but next time I won’t go out without my long knickers