At Spring Street on the edge of Chinatown,
a guy in an old car turned left into
my path. I yelled, watch out, and he rolled down
his window, shouted back, Oh, shut up. You
are so fucking stupid!
I was glad
he spoke, found a way to say hello
in a neighborhood filled with pictographs
I love but cannot read. The German roots,
sibilance in shut, closed vowel sounds
in fuck and up made me almost forget
why I was there.
Then I pictured my two-year-old
grandson pedaling his birthday gift;
how he would look up to tell me tanks,
eluded by the consonant-clustered thanks.
First appeared in Rattle (Winter, 2018.)
Elizabeth J. Coleman is editor of HERE: Poems for the Planet (Copper
Canyon Press, 2019), and author of two poetry collections, The Fifth
Generation (Spuyten Duyvil Press, 2016) and Proof (Spuyten Duyvil Press,
2014) (finalist for two University of Wisconsin prizes). She is the author of
two poetry chapbooks, and co-author and translator of Pythagoras in
Love/Pythagore, Amoureux (Folded Word Press, 2015) (bilingual edition).
Elizabeth’s poems appear in a number of anthologies and journals.