In New York City

David G O'Sullivan

In New York City

She stands on the corner, in her raincoat,

Its pattern reflects in the street light and glistens with raindrops.

Her hair is pushed behind her ears

And she tilts her head down toward the street a little.

There is a golden puddle in the mountains, the water in that puddle

Is fresh and pure

There is a puddle on the street turning brown

And it is kicked by feet moving along in the crowd.

She stood on that mountain, in green summer grass

And I remember how she smiled as the sun sat upon the clouds and filled the valley with gold.

The sun has set on the street now

And my little room above the bodega is emptied of light.

Organ music plays down the hall

Someone is crying in a room nearby.

As I look out the window, the rain falls heavier still


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A day outside

David G O'Sullivan

Out my office window,

I watch the ducks rummage in the grass

The topknot pigeons chase each other

Lusty with desire,

 and the blackbirds surround and tease the plover.

The blackbirds seem to laugh as they dance about.

Red-headed green parrots step out of a low bush

And stagger as if slightly drunk and hold seeds to their mouths

With their clawed feet.

No blackbird ever teases a parrot.

Once I saw a hawk

Swoop down and rise like a god

To hover, its shadow passing coldly across the green lawn.

All the other birds disappeared, they did not fly away,

They melted away.

They fear the hawk.

I sit in my office and realise they are out in the sun and air

And I am in here.

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That girl

David G O'Sullivan

As the leaves turned yellow and Autumn tread among the trees

We drove black roads to see the colours of life.

The girl with me

Urged me to run down animals we saw in our way.

I laughed thinking it was a joke

But she was serious

No good came of that drive.

Later, standing alone at the bar, deep in the heart of the city

In came loud mouth Joe, laughing and wearing a coat he stole from the second-hand store.

He came up beside me, holding a letter like a fox might hold an egg.

He sits down on a stool, hard,

But lays the letter down soft

And points at it, inviting me to read.

It’s from a lawyer

Joe leans across and runs a dirty finger over a line

“You do not owe her any money.”

I know what it’s about, the eighteen-year-old girl he made…

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Death and Roses

David G O'Sullivan

“We’re all going to die,” she said softly.

“It all ends so soon, just like our days off from work,

Sunday never lasts long enough.”

She would often say things like this and become sad.

“We’re all going to die, and there’s nothing we can do,

No matter how much fun we have, it all ends and ends terribly.”

I would never say anything to her when she became like this,

It was best to let her become quiet and sit in the dark

Like someone mourning every loss, and only the shadows give comfort-

But that comfort is nothing at all. Like eating ice for hunger.

Her friends were there once when she said this and they became angry.

“Why do you have to say that?” they wailed,

“We know we are going to die, what good does talking about it do?

Life isn’t just sadness; you’ll never be…

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True love

David G O'Sullivan


He found me walking home one day, and he started to walk with me,

Every house we passed, he would run in and check for any food left out

And see if he could win a bite,

But then he’d catch up to me and walk at my side with happy pride.

He followed me four blocks

Until we came to a highway

And I turned to him and yelled at him to go.

His face turned to hurt fear and he left.

I crossed the road and regretted what I had done, turned and returned to the other side

and searched for him,

That black and white dog,

But he was gone and I couldn’t find him.

Chances come and go, but I had a chance to love and I let it go.

She stood in the morning light, a sad determined look on her face

And told…

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The swimming lesson

David G O'Sullivan

It was summer; we were little,

My friend’s name was Sal.

We played, minding our own business,

When her dad called her to the side of the pool.

He reached across to her, picking her up by her arms

And dropped her into the water.

She couldn’t swim

And he had decided, at that moment to surprise her

And have her learn.

I stood by the edge and watched her sink.

It was beautiful.

She was so resigned to the fate

She sank slowly; the water bubbled lightly,

Her eyes wide open as down she went.

The pool seemed infinitely deep.

Her hair floated like snakes around her head

Her hands outstretched so sadly, pleading

Like Ophelia.

Goodbye. I remember thinking goodbye.

Her father reached into the water

And plucked her out, back into the air.

Sal took some deep breaths

Lightly coughing- but quiet

Well behaved and accepting.


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