Saturday, October 18, 2008

Featured poet: Anna Bristow

"Anna Bristow grew up in the Bronx and now lives in Brooklyn. She is a freelance editor and has an MA in English from Fordham University. Her poetry has been published in several online journals, including The Pregnant Moon Review, and Flask and Pen, as well as included in Names in a Jar: A Collection of Poetry by 100 Contemporary American Poets and an upcoming anthology of poems themed by state. She is also an Assistant Poetry Editor for the literary journal 42opus. Her life is divided into trying to make a living editing other people's work, and trying to find enough time to write her own."

The Starbucks Hover

He is outside

peering in.

One hand is occupied

with a clove cigarette,

its long, slim, black outline unmistakable

even through the translucent window shade.

Curls of smoke wind upwards

mating with small puffs of breath

before both disappear.

With one finger he traces a spiral design

on the glass.

Inside, people sit

at little round tables.

Laptops, textbooks, newspapers

open in front of them.

Striped shadows fall across arms

as the sun shifts. Other people hover –

waiting to pounce when a chair is pushed back.

Glances lift now and then,

but if other eyes are met,

all look down quickly.

No one notices him outside,

his scruffy face and baseball cap,

as leaning towards the window,

he watches them,

crowded together pretending distance.


The office is so quiet that

my breathing feels forced, sounds

out of place in the boxy grey room,

with fluorescent light

and plastic plants in the corners.

My face too warm,

my hands too cold. They tingle.

My nose starts to run,

I sniffle,

a snot-nosed little kid –

and I know I won’t

be getting this job. The interview will be

as stuffy as my nose. And

after answering asinine inquiries:

“So, you’re probably thinking

‘what should I do with a degree in English?’ ”

I will want to run out of

that building on 5th avenue,

losing myself and my ‘That’s rights’

in a sticky clot of transitory tourists

who throng the sidewalk, bewildered and stuck.

Nowhere in a Hurry

The treadmills are lined up, facing the window. They wait, going nowhere, wishing they could watch HBO instead of MTV, which always seems to be on. They hate the sweat droplets that fall onto their long, narrow backs.

So, one day, when an aspiring (and perspiring) athlete steps on and presses the ‘Start’ button – a treadmill shudders, speeds up, and throws him off.

The man, in bright blue spandex, yells in shock, as he shoots backward into the wall. Silence descends over the gym. Vibrating with its triumph, the treadmill blinks on and off, not quite believing its success.