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
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
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,
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.
I mean never.
Under any circumstances.
Never get into an empty subway car.
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.
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.
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. www.andreajanov.com