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Weekly Poem: ‘Excuse Me, Where Is Varick Street?’

By Joy Katz

Varick, yes. Just — oh, Film Forum, sure.
Go straight down Carmine and turn left.
Wait, did I say turn onto Houston after Varick?
Actually, I’m walking that way.
You’re welcome.
Actually, you can turn here, before Varick:
this street dead ends at Film Forum.
In fact, I’m going to Film Forum.
Would you like me to carry you?
I was going to carry something anyway.
Did I say to walk through the air molecules on the southwest corner of — ?
Let’s count forty blocks of sidewalk.
No, wait, thirty-seven paving stones to the corner.
The ticket window is there on the south side of Houston.
Coincidentally, I’m also going to see the Tarkovsky.
I am ploughing and harrowing my soul,
tendering it capable of turning to good.
Two, please.
I was going to buy two tickets anyway, my pleasure.
The brownies here are delicious.
In fact, I’m going to get one.
Here, let me feed it you.
I am good for you.
I am good also for lost Japanese women,
for the boys in Big Brothers Big Sisters
(I am always seated next to them at weddings),
for the aggrieved,
the grieving, the recently blind –
are you going to sit there?
Coincidentally, I am also going to sit there.
Can you see out my eyeholes? Are you comfortable?


Joy Katz is the author of two poetry collections, “The Garden Room” (2006, Tupelo Press) and “Fabulae” (2002, Southern Illinois University Press). She teaches in the graduate writing program at the University of Pittsburgh and is an editor-at-large for Pleiades. “Excuse Me, Where Is Varick Street?” appears in the Winter 2010-11 issue of Ploughshares.

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