Ward Stories
(Column: Ward Stories)
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I have often stated my belief that the poetry I receive from the NYC Voices community are
among the most emotionally rich and sincere poems that I have read (and I've read a lot of
poetry!). The four poems below are seemingly different and, yet, in one way or another, they
all capture summer in the city and the need to be heard. These poems validate not only the
poets themselves, but those who have the good fortune to read them. Please keep these gems

Am I Real?
By Kristen Davis

Does the person standing on the sidelines of life, silently observing, suffer in silence?
Or are they content just being there?
Do they feel like I feel, not real?

Are they observing, but not really living?
Do they feel love in their heart, but are too scared to give it?
- and why do I do that?

Is it selfish of me to feel pain,
When I hear others' laughter?
- and why do I do that?

Sitting alone in the Laundromat,
Watching for my clothes to dry.
Watching people interacting, laughing,
Helping, and even having a good time
- and why can't I do that?

I've realized I'm that person
Standing on the sidelines,
And Yes I'm suffering in Silence.
I'm invisible, I'm alone, and I'm crying
- and why am I like that?

I'm not real.
I can't feel.
Am I even sitting here?
Do you see me?
Can't you hear?

Not if I just sit here in silence and fear.
It's no one's fault, only my own.

I try to let you in and then I run and scream and hide.
You say you care, yet bring me pain.
You ask me to talk to you, and then you aren't there.
I know you care, but caring is more than words, it's being there.
Not when it's convenient for you, but when the need is there.
Am I being unfair?

I can't sit around and wait days, weeks, months for you,
But that is what I've started to do.
I Love you, I hate you, I need you, don't leave me
Classic co-dependency.
You care, but are not there again today.
I'll take my pills and fade away....
Nothing more to really say.

Primary Fever
By Marilyn Plottel

Moist soot falls
On city's somnambulist pall.
Hot steam seems
To pervade each city walk.
How I long for a cold drink
And a cool shower
And the approach of fall
When the grip of life takes hold
And unproductive sweat is gone.
But we've finally got
The candidates
Who will speak and perspire
For us all.

By Sal Branciforte

Assume for a moment
that knowledge is thirst.
Now you can lead me to the well,
but if I'm not thirsty
you can't expect me to drink,
can you?
If you are really and truly sincere
about offering me pure unadulterated
water to satisfy my thirst, then first
wet my lips.
show me by example that the water
is not spoiled.
That if I drink from the well,
I will not become ill.
You drink first, prove to
me that water is not corrupt.
On the other hand do not let me
deceive you.
If my lips are parched and I crave the
water you put before me,
then guard the well
For I will be unstoppable, in my haste
to taste the taste.
No amount of soldiers that you station
to protect your well,
will deter me from gaining access
to what my lips crave,
the moisture, the wetness
of the taste.
I will step over legions or fly over or
dig tunnels underneath them
to achieve my goal, to taste
the taste of pure untainted water.

The Sandwichman
By Millie Niss

a sandwichman advertising a whole new life
squashed between two polyfiber boards
his insides suppressed - a sure cure for some kinds
of hernia I suppose and a coarse sort of corset
in the back-to-front direction but: a whole new life?
I doubt it!
Here you can accuse me of
ignoring content and seeing only the concreteness of form
but please forgive me - I have a brain disorder
I am not capable of abstract thought you know
metaphor is quite beyond me
as is the merest symbol
so if you think the herniated fat man sandwiched between ads
for a better life through religion
is a symbol of the condition of man
or of people in my particular predicament
you'd better have another think
what I say is merely the scrawling of a madman
the dribbling and drooling of an idiot
and we need hardly mention that's full
of sound and fury and signifies
that goes without saying
as does the whole unnecessary poem
so I might as well terminate it here
and bother you no further
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