Andrea Janov

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Andrea’s poems are from a yet umpublished collection called Short Skirts and Whiskey Shots which captures that liminal part of our lives, that time past adolescence, yet before adulthood. This collection is deeply rooted in the people and the streets of New York City. It thrives in the bars, the clubs, the tenements, the subway. It celebrates the dirty streets, the beer-soaked nights, and those who sweat liquor. It explores the idiosyncrasies, the innocence, the excesses of the city. From a tenement building in Alphabet City that had not changed much since the turn of the century to the trendy clubs and dark bars this collection explores, finds, loses, and regains itself. It claims the space and the right to be reckless, as a woman. It explores the uncertainty of being on your own for the first time, exploring the world, and getting a little lost along the way. It veers off the intended path, it course corrects, it celebrates what we learn on those detours. It does not make apologies.

Tompkins Square Park

I swear it has been summer
           for twelve months now.
90 degrees in the shade and
          through the night.

The fifth floor is a furnace.
          The window is open
                   but there is no opposite window
          to create a breeze.

Sans air conditioning
          sans cable
                     sans curtains
                               I find solace in the East Village.

Still not 21,
      I spend my Friday nights
                 wandering through the streets
                          from Avenue B to Astor Place
                                   from Union Square and Houston.

I walk past Tompkins Square Park to Key Foods
         barely making it back up the five flights
                  plastic grocery bags digging into my arms
                            packed with generic bread, cereal, peanut butter.

I can connect to the public wifi, if I sit on my fire escape.
         Log in to LiveJournal and AIM,
                  talk with friends from back home
                            who are now scattered all over the world.

Everything is changing
          right at the moment
                     my life is beginning.
I am not ready for any of it
          yet burning to start,
                   tired of stalling.

These hot summer nights on Avenue B
           are perfectly humid
                     perfectly still
                               perfectly alive.

The 6 Local

You are not a real New Yorker
           until you become one with the subway.

Swipe your MetroCard,
          run down the stairs,
                    bob and weave around the slow movers
                              just in case you have to jump in though the already closing doors.

Try to gauge when the last train was here
                     by how many people are on the platform.
                                Listen in the distance for the hum.
                                         Squint to see the headlights.

Learn the maps,
          the routes,
                    the stops.

Know the hubs.
          Know where you can transfer
                   to a crosstown train.
          Know the transfers that take you blocks
                   before you realize that it would have been faster
                                     or at least less murder-y above ground.

Sway with the train.
         Hold onto the bar
                  lock your knees
                          let your hips sway
                                    so you won’t stumble
                                              (it is all core work).

Learn to speak conductor.
          It requires a good ear and
                      the ability to pattern match
                               sounds with stops on the line.

Know if your train is an express or local.
          Listen for route changes –
                    for locals instantly becoming expresses.

Don’t get trapped on the wrong side of the train.
          Stand in the doorway.
                      Get off and on if you have to.
                                 Don’t get pushed into the middle.
                                          Make your way to the door
                                                     at least one stop before you have to get off.

Ignore the performers
          but always think to yourself,
                      you admire them,
                               just a bit.
                              Except for the mariachi bands,
                      a subway car is way too confined
           for that level of sound.

And never.
          I mean never.
                    Under any circumstances.
                             Never get into an empty subway car.

Cherry Tavern

In a post-break-up-reckless-self-destructive period,
          I meet him.
                    He is in a band that used to play in my home town
                                         when I was in high school.

He has always looked too clean cut to be in a punk band.
         It was his older brother that was the punk rock heartthrob,
                every girl in the scene had a crush
                     when we were sixteen.

Crutches or escapes,
          or a bit of both
                      is what we really are for one another.
Never serious,
         our whole relationship is drinking and sex.
                    Mostly messy not good half remembered drunk sex.

There is one night
         some time that first winter
            after we started dating
                      (I suppose you could call it dating)
in Cherry Tavern
           when he puts Into the Great Wide Open
                      on the jukebox.

And I think,
         even just for these three minutes
                    and forty-five seconds.
                               That maybe,
                    maybe this can be something more.

Andrea Janov is a punk rock kids who believes in the beauty of the ordinary, the power of the vernacular, this history of the abandoned. She strives to reveal the power in what we see, say, do, ignore, and forget every day. Hee first collection, Mix Tapes and Photo Albums, is out nowon EMP Books.