Fleeting (September 2014, NYC)


An old photo! It was so much pinker than this today, and cloudy, and warm!

Fleeting (September 2014, NYC)

A dawn today more neon than dusk
the pink deepened by cloud cover, pinker than a painting sold
by a tourist’s seaside, oranger than sherbet, oranger even
than a distant
and, to the east, two
flashes, ongoing brightnesses more still
than a morning star
and its mirror–
helicopters, I’m guessing, or some machine
that balances on air, and my mind’s map places them
above the U.N., somewhere over
the FDR Drive, which pricks my wonder
at the beauty of this city,
not because I don’t like the U.N., but because I don’t like
the need for sentinels in the sky,
no matter how starlike.

And I was thinking all night, separately,
about the word careen–how it might describe
that day I rode with you
in the back of an ambulance, my back pushed
against its refrigerator walls, speeding along
that same FDR, how
my one hand gripped
what it could
while the other lay so lightly
across your forehead,
how the EMT called you sir
as he asked questions to keep you with us,
how I tried to croon quietly, even
chat, beneath the overhead scream,
maybe about the weather–
another heat wave–but what really careened
was all the fear I kept tamped down
below the lid of my voice box, my murmur soft
as a mown lawn, and I keep thinking now that fear
is something like magma
inside a globe, below the (relatively) smooth crust
of sea, sand, field,
fervid and spasming,
and no wonder
we call the Earth a good mother, the way she keeps it stowed
below her countenance mostly
except, you know, when it’s simply
too much and she cracks badly, and her face
breaks, her shoulders
shake, and everyone else
gets upset too–

Now, the sky clouds completely, pinks greyed–
those in-between times
fleeting—and the helicopters become
mere blips in the overcast–I have to squint to find
their beacons–and the point of all this–
and I mean–ALL this–is somehow
to hold on, get through
it, do
your best.


A very drafty poem–or something–for With Real Toads Open LInk Night–I am in Manhattan and so sorry that I did not take a picture this morning of the truly beautiful dawn.   Sorry also for the length of this–just written in between things, and not enough edited, as has been an issue lately.

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13 Comments on “Fleeting (September 2014, NYC)”

  1. careening.. a new word for me.. I like how you spun the story from the dawn and the word and those helicopters… really effective to include that memory…

  2. hedgewitch Says:

    There is a dawn-like quality to this whole poem for me, k, both the state of nature and the state of mind, when we wake before the world around us has and see what things are there always–ALL the things, as you say,even those that daylight or our own blinding activities normally cover up or disguise. I can feel the emotions in this also, and you have really–for a ‘drafty’ poem, integrated them well with the more cerebral and ruminative ones. It’s really a beautiful, edgy and intelligent piece, k. Glad you didn’t wait to post it. My drafts are *never* like this. ;_)

    • ManicDdaily Says:

      Ha. Yours are probably far less long-winded! I just knew if I waited too long I wouldn’t like it, so snuck it in through the course of the day. (Terrible–but getting worn out here..)

      On Mon, Sep 29, 2014 at 4:36 PM, ManicDDaily wrote:


      • hedgewitch Says:

        Better to post it than lose it, or lose the feel for it. Though I often do better waiting with mine–and you would be the first person ever to compliment on me a lack of long-windedness! My *comments* are longer than some people’s poems. ;_) Hope the week doesn’t get you down, k..

      • ManicDdaily Says:

        Thanks. I get to go back upstate early so very happy about that.

        I find it is sometimes better to hold onto a true poem, but some of these more prosy things I can develop a weird prejudice against. Also, nice to open up a space for something new to flow into. Your comments are terrific and I am sure no one every complained about word length! k.

        On Tue, Sep 30, 2014 at 2:06 PM, ManicDDaily wrote:


  3. Polly Says:

    This captures the season’so changing beautifully, k. Love ‘oranger than sherbet…’ perfect 🙂

  4. brian miller Says:

    that is often the best we can…especially when the ground shakes…and the foundations we believed in crack…and lava finds the surface…then again it makes new sediment…new crust…nice progression in this k

  5. This is such a good combination of noticing the day, the nature around you and what it led to in your thoughts on the ambulance ride and the fear careening in you. You described both so accurately and well that I felt present.

  6. Brendan Says:

    The drill-down from fleeting observation to most intense feeling (so that the particulars blossom into a “screaming” magnitude — like the sound on the roof of the ambulance) is what makes this so gripping. And then it relaxes into a statement about keepin’ on keepin’ on that is wildly ironic, given where we have been taken. Maybe there’s some sag — hope you can work on it some more — but its got a wonderful arc to it.

  7. Adura Ojo Says:

    The structure fits the ‘fleeting’ feeling, I think. Creative piece. I wouldn’t worry about editing.

  8. this is absolutely amazing.

    what a talented voice you have. i can’t wait to peruse the rest of your blog.

    the picture is also a beautiful visual…this whole post just had me saying ‘awe’

    stacy lynn mar

  9. Jamie Dedes Says:

    “I don’t like the need for sentinels in the sky” … think that’s my favorite line in this one, Karen. Hanging on, doing our best … Yup! That would be all of us.

    Honestly like the length of this poem. Seems to serve it well.

  10. grapeling Says:

    i really like this, k, the personification of mother earth, the movement from now to memory and trauma and back, and the final good words you give back ~

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