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A boy on a skateboard

by Jordan789 

Posted: 19 December 2006
Word Count: 158

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He veers back and forth down twenty-fourth
avenue, as I walk
towards my house on thirty-sixth.

He glides one way, and almost grazes the sleeping cars,
engines cold, lined up
at the road’s edge.
His body balances, bent at the knees,
at the waist; his arm reaches out and downward
and stiff, and his fingertips taste the concrete.

At first I think he is headed towards me, surfing
towards the train, or maybe further, as
far as the park or the Triborough bridge, but
He doubles back, full loop, to one
spot on the corner of Twenty-fourth and Thirty-fifth.

As I approach I see her,
hands in pockets, her breath rapid firing
in evaporating explosions
through a thick wool scarf hiding her face.

She watches, and he circles and swerves
and the cars envy his agility. The sweeping, careening
path he cuts. And I walk home, back sore, to Emily, and
a dinner of steak and mashed potatoes.

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Comments by other Members

Nell at 13:14 on 19 December 2006  Report this post
Hi Jordan,

Back with comments soon - quiet thinking space needed!


Nell at 07:31 on 20 December 2006  Report this post
Hi again Jordan.

For the first three stanzas this appears to be a poem about a boy on a skateboard, but it's so much more. Those stanzas concentrate on a description of his movements, both in relation to the narrator and their skilful execution to the exclusion of all else but the 'sleeping cars'. Wonderful imagery and language in those lines:

He glides one way, and almost grazes the sleeping cars,
engines cold, lined up
at the road’s edge.


...and his fingertips taste the concrete.

The girl comes as a surprise after those three stanzas - some sort of a connection has been made between the boy and the narrator - an observation detailed and non-judgemental, without emotion. She's almost an intrusion - mysterious too with the scarf hiding her face, and I wonder if the narrator knows her. An interesting resonance between 'rapid firing' and 'evaporating'.

The final stanza is beautiful in its subtlety, the way it suggests so much about the narrator and his relationship with Emily, about his life. He walks home, unable to perform the skilful manoevres that made the girl stop to watch. Interesting that it's the cars that '...envy his agility...' I wasn't sure of that line on first reading, it seems to be assuming just a little too much about those inanimate (yet sleeping) vehicles, but it grew on me with subsequent readings. It's as if the narrator can't/won't admit that he's the one who envies the boy - this is the nearest he can get to revealing it to himself. Or perhaps one must take that line as true - he doesn't envy the boy at all, in spite of the sore back - Emily and steak and mash are all he needs? No, I think that 'And I walk home, back sore, to Emily...' is too revealing. The 'back itself is slightly ambiguous (going back, back home, going back home sore after seeing the boy and his effect on the girl?)

A few things to think about. The first three stanzas are specific re. location - especially with those street numbers. They seem very meaningful as one reads on, yet disappear in the last two stanzas, leaving a sort of poetic question mark at the end, ghosts of themselves.

I wonder if you need...

...his arm reaches out and downward
and stiff,

...it seemed superfluous. I could see him without it in those words about his fingertips. I asked that same question on first reading of '...hiding her face...' - the previous lines seem to suggest that.

Likewise 'avenue' in stanza 1.

Jordan, as always, see what you think about the above. I love this poem - it's beautifully thought out, and repays reading again and again.


DJC at 12:22 on 30 December 2006  Report this post
Jordan - I like this very much. There's a simplicity to it which is hard to master, but you've carried it off well. I like the specifics - the street names, the scarf, the food, and the moment is captured well. Just one thing - perhaps take out some of the articles. I think the line 'He glides one way, and almost grazes the sleeping cars,', would be better like this:

'He glides one way, almost grazes sleeping cars,'

It scans better and is a little more lean, which is what I think you are trying for.


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