His overcoat billows,
his pants are thread with a leather belt and
his plaid shirt is very becoming.
His coat is big enough to cover me
outside the streets and a little rain
inside it's me and James Dean.
And James, I say as he hugs me, this space is mine.
Rude gust of heavier rain.
Rain water falls infused with abrasives, concrete,
from sliding the sides of buildings, smearing dusty windows at the eighth floor,
the drops like ampoules of acid,
rest in peoples' epaulettes,
collect in the hair of wall street men,
pool in their suit pockets.
I nuzzle my ear against his chest
but I cannot hide my head from the rain
in the musty inside of his overcoat
he sweats comfortably, nourishes the shirt fabric with patches
I can smell and am part-curious to lick.
Being mischievous in the city,
even in such rain playing Walk New York.
We shin up windowsills
carefully jump across to railings
flail arms out and stumble laughing, stepping along
people watch discreetly, walk on too busy.
We kneel up onto the roofs of news stands, below bold headlines expand with raindrops.
Jump up onto low ledges, we walk along swaggeringly, cads in old movies.
We hop onto the awnings sheltering passers-by outside a big department store.
Hush our giggling and
watch people brave the coming rain
or clumping in thick shoes running to a stop underneath us.
People release conversations like cigarette smoke
melding together to us above, a composite of nonsense.
We are so soaked, we feel almost naked.
We struggle hilariously over to the other side, walking window ledges
we arrive at a huge billboard
and make home in the crawl-space behind it.
James sits, starts smoking.
On our side:
mud, five fingers of grass, glass-gravel, moss with pores like human skin,
trash that floated up here weeks ago on sudden gusts.
On the other side:
Calvin Klein, fabulous muscles.
As James shifts his weight I hear the gravel snap and scrape
little stones work their way into the grooves of our shoes.
We rest cross-legged in the grime, plan our next move
we're going to run through puddles, kicking.
We wear smiles fully in the half-dark
excited by the prospect
of finding a route to the ground.
Is it too much haste to wish to go and make jam?
to reduce fruits and sugars
spend hours boiling batches in a vat?
Will this be consigned to a jar?
Airtight in a French kilner
metal hooks, clasps and rubber.
In my apron,
I set about tasting old flavours:
"Iain" was too pithy a batch.
I overcooked with sugars in "Samuel"
and "Gregory" came out
too bitter and syrupy.
"Oliver" too meek and watery
barely enough fruit to give colour
skins of blackberries boiled down
to juice almost unusable.
condensing these things so soon to a jelly.
I could wait,
I hear marmalade's best made in January.
I am not ready
to line up new jars on the high shelf
to avoid looking at them until I have to go up there
for something else.
I am not ready
for the curiosity to come
and make me take a teaspoon
and taste a slither slice from "Mark"
I don't want to know the taste, not yet.
I would hate
to then say sadly to my self, my kitchen:
It's so very different
I can remember the first rush
the fresh juice, the touch
of the skin on my teeth as they sank in,
I remember holding the flesh newly in my hands
I remember the first rush
of those fruits
In The Talkies
To chase you across America
North By Northwest.
Be like The Birds that followed Tipi Hedren
wherever she went.
Did I stink of Government sting,
with my suit too tight, manners false,
eyes telling everything?
Was it misdirection from the first handshake?
Our coupled grasps beginning a gentleman's civil war.
that the scatter pattern of sugar
you left on the Diner table
I thought that the booth seating felt like an automobile for a reason.
I must hold to this narrative of
codes of night words.
To chase you across America
means lone night in dusty border towns
smoking cigars in panelled motel rooms
re-ordering the dossier of the case.
Even in those days before
it felt just as staged, acted.
But I will hold to the narrative.
In pursuit to learn of what has happened
you've made me
that duped agent in the talkies
chasing a spectre,
maybe the wrong man.
Edward Long is a poet based in Hertfordshire. He came to Goldsmiths
in September 2006 after completing his dual honours BA in English and Philosophy
earlier that year at Keele University, Staffordshire. He spends his time walking
his Dalmatians in the woods surrounding his village and working as a steward
in a local art gallery. He can often be found wandering dreamily around cities
and scribbling notes in libraries. His poetry is the culmination of these activities.
Aside from poetry he has written one novel Valencia Wenning. He is
currently working on a collection dealing with weather.