A poem – Sonia Coman

My experiment took place on Thursday, March 3, in Chelsea, New York City. I asked someone on the street for directions to a flower shop; instead of following the suggested way, I decided to go in the opposite direction. It was the first time that I was in that area of Chelsea. Making an effort to ignore street signs, subway maps, and shop signs, I walked aimlessly and took pictures of walls. I chose to photograph wall surfaces because they represented the only visual breaks from an overwhelming amount of information from which I was trying to escape, in order to prevent myself from identifying where I was exactly. From this perspective, I felt how the city was aggressively working against my project.

Along the process, whenever I was in an intersection, I wrote down a word I would hear being spoken by the passers-by. The words were: “laughs,” “direction,” “need,” “forget,” “break,” and “world”. These words became part of the first and last lines of 3 short free-verse poems which I wrote during my walk. As I frequently write poetry, this activity helped me to focus on the unfamiliar urban space and on how it affected my imagination.

New York City. March 3, 2011. Late afternoon.
A carnation laughs sarcastically
I turn my head to look at it
It’s scandalous
A red carnation laughs to tears
Why is nobody waiting for me round the corner?
Bakeries close down; starving cooks gulp brioches
I step in the puddles which reflect the winter sky
I look back, but I can’t see what’s left behind
A carnation laughs sarcastically
Everybody thinks it’s odd
But keeps going
In the opposite direction
You need not read now, it’s confidential
It’s all between us
A moonbeam danced its way into my room and stayed with me
I jump over it every morning and I feed it with rage when it begins to fade
It is a magic recipe
The moonbeam is frightened, because it hears salty laughter
The magic recipe
Is to utter the words
You begin to forget
Words break like egg shells
The sun hid from this part of the world,
Throwing with eggs to a bare wall
Words stumble upon dying rays
And melt in a mix of languages
My native tongue, almost forgotten
But its words are the least fragile
Smiles on top of silences on top of words
It takes only a question mark
To destabilize a world
- Sonia Coman