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Places!

Issue 277

Meet the city at the first light of day and the people who share its streets in this poetry debut.

Nakama Feb 7, 2023

This piece, vignettes of a New York morning, should be read with friends! Divide the roles among yourselves and get into the rhythm of our residents.

Roles:
NARRATOR
STRANGER 1
STRANGER 2
SELLER
HOMELESS PERSON
KID 1
KID 2
DANCE INSTRUCTOR
DANCER

NARRATOR:
Places!
Places!
Daybreak choreography
With two left feet
Means starting off
On the wrong one —

DANCE INSTRUCTOR:
We need Alvin Ailey at Lincoln Center, not showtime in the park, (BEAT) honey.
DANCER:
Good morning to you too.

NARRATOR:
Its too early for your scathing remarks …
Impressed against
The haggard face
Of ATM terminals
Reflecting us
Is bumping into strangers
Aimlessly surveying
The Post —

STRANGER 1:
My fault g

STRANGER 2:
Nah its all good

NARRATOR:
In between Hail Mary’s
Our dancers duck
Winston-armed periodicals/
Out the Civic window
Shuddered storefronts
Grounds for where
Spare change
Is an afterthought

HOMELESS PERSON:
Sorry for the interruption, ladies
and gentlemen. My name is (BEAT)

NARRATOR:
Patience!
Improvise connections
To high contrast,
silhouetted neighbors/
Congested
And
In-diff-er-ent
Incessant pedestrian traffic
Rubberneck on
Ware peddlers’ accessories and goods —

STRANGER 1:
How much for a phone case and
two packs of incense?

SELLER:
30 but for you I’ll do 21.

NARRATOR:
It’s all maintaining space,
Commercial gain
Some courtesy reserved
In queue
Queens with the smudged beat
Behind the OSHA admin
Both want a turkey bacon egg and cheese
Commuter kids
Reaching for the Dunkaroos

KID 1:
You really gon’ eat that whole pack?

KID 2:
Fuck is you talkin’ bout, watch me —

KID 1:
Nah you buggin’, let me get one (BEAT)
or two.

NARRATOR:
The minutia
Between them
Articulates
Posture points
Where conflicts
Of buoyancy occur
Afloat in the riptides
Of a morning’s affinity
And collective negligence

SELLER:
AYE LOOK OUT —
Idiot knocking over my table …

STRANGER 2:
Nobody want ya bum ass shea butter, relax.

DANCE INSTRUCTOR:
EXCUSE ME, WHY ARE WE NOT
MOVING —

KID 2:
Cause they dummies.

STRANGER 1:
Cap, I’M moving this week.

DANCE INSTRUCTOR:
THAT’S NOT WHAT I MEANT —

KID 1:
Aight bet then! You gonna
lower my rent.

HOMELESS PERSON:
Think that’s hoping for the best kid.

DANCER:
Today is teaching me that
what you get is what you get …
(BEAT)

CAST IN UNISON:
Well yeah. What’d you expect?

NARRATOR:
As far as they agree
Alliances of view
Are more opportune subterfuge
Than bonds they need to keep
Decorum for a crowded avenue
That rarely changes speed
Save for the first wave
Of waking agency
The flow of which
They’re presumed to repeat
Places!
Places!

Nakama is a multimedia artist and performer from New York. They explore sonic and visual media as a means of connecting worlds and people, cognitively and in real time.

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