Alphabet City

Maja Lukic


I ran to meet you with soju-iced veins
conceived in undisclosed jazz clubs.
The cold air mirrored the liquor blade
along my spine—I was spinning loose
but also somehow down—you never
liked my drinking.

Electric streetlights tossed high pressure
sodium glow on these vacant flumes,
conduits for cravings.

Candle flames licked up windows as I
passed, but nothing was truly illuminated
on Avenue C, as nothing should be.
The starless night unfolded.


I waited for you by a Spanish eatery. The waitress
fell out for a smoke. Her blue coiled into black,
orange ash died on gum-chew concrete.

Your train was late and you lost your hat
with your crocodile cracks, but you stopped
and made some friends.

The sliver of salvation in you slipped off
like discarded skin, left the elemental night
confused. I continued alone.


The atmosphere cleared in the east, spaces
emptied. I passed through the containers of
low buildings but added no meaning
to their desertion.

I found the edge of the river, black and bucolic,
the swell and shimmer, relentless reflection of
halogen illumination spilling over the water,
black & green & gold—this bohemian emerald town.
I thought of it all and said, “If this is all I am, I am.”

Your friends left, you arranged your body
in the street and waited for cars
but none came along, and we were each
alone in Alphabet City.