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With a pull of faux smoke from my e-cig

Wednesday, 22 April, 2015

For his “clear-voiced poems that bring readers the news from 21st Century America, rich with thought, ideas and histories public and private,” Gregory Pardlo has won the 2015 Pulitzer Prize for poetry. Pardlo’s verses are noted for “language simultaneously urban and highbrow… snapshots of a life that is so specific it becomes universal.”

His Wishing Well is rich in elegant imagery: “Central Park exhibits / the frisking transparency of autumn / Tracing paper sky, leaves like eraser crumbs gum the pavement.” Excerpt:

Gregory Pardlo Outside the Met a man walks up sun
tweaking the brim sticker on his Starter cap
and he says pardon me Old School he
says you know is this a wishing well?
Yeah Son I say sideways over my shrug
at the limpid smooth as spandex behind me.
Throw your bread on the water.
I tighten my chest wheezy as Rockaway beach
sand with a pull of faux smoke from my e-cig
to cozy the truculence I hotbox alone
and I am at the museum because it is not a bar.
Because he appears not to have changed
them in days I eye the heel-chewed hems
of his pants and think probably he will
ask me for fifty cents any minute now wait
for it. A smoke or something. Central Park exhibits
the frisking transparency of autumn. Tracing
paper sky, leaves like eraser crumbs gum
the pavement. As if deciphering celestial
script I squint and purse off toward the roof
line of the museum aloof as he fists two
pennies from his pockets mumbling and then
aloud my man he says hey my man I’m going
to make a wish for you too.


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