“Cartographer of Crumpled Maps”, “At a Concert, Battery Park” and “Migration”

Cartographer of Crumpled Maps

The painted buntings used to pair among

the fractured feelings

neither bunting nor feeling,

came to assist their harvest

what was settled among the field, a Hairy bear (one that laughed)

slinked in from the wilderness

a child heiress jostled in the imagery and made hand puppets

with the earth’s ceiling

the light of the moon scattered a hectare and a half.

A mandarin interpreter punctured the scenery

and like lunar egg tempera painted the background.

The longest edge must be kept dry

and stored with the root vegetables all winter.

The frost had a wisp like a wasp;

The fortnight had a mime

That hollered, for impromptu theater

And kept a watchful eye for a shooting star

Not knowing blind men can see meteors…

The mind was a cartographer of crumpled maps

it diluted the wilderness with the penultimate truth

At this degree not even the crags of trees could be kept.

The pervasiveness of passive verbs laughed at the oratory of editors

or the crumpled rage of a jester’s instrument

Don’t cry the aesthetic lunged at wise men and duds

It is never too late to rage at the hilarious night.

At a Concert, Battery Park

We wait in the park for a concert,

with the downtown hoards, near the Hudson.

The thickness of summer convalesces

over the river. When will the rain come?

Already, some hide beneath

their oily bags, in preparation

for the warm smell of rain on concrete.

You turn to me before the first crack

flashes on empty office windows.

I do not know you.

Your eyes, senseless and inconceivable,

reflect the multi-colored crowd

and the upwind flight of a hundred fliers.

A gray wall builds above the stage.

I cannot speak to someone like you.

Why now, why here—vulnerable

in the city fields, and alone,

our expressions fade among the desperate faces.

We should have a mixed drink

down the block at some place we don’t know,

but still faintly remember.

A puddle has formed beneath us

on the shiny floor. The Knicks are playing.

The bar is filled. It’s like St. Patrick’s Day.

The walls hang convoluted with ornaments:

leftovers from holidays, when chips and salsa

was served late, and fireworks banged outside.

You tell me of a family and the suburbs;

I talk to listen more. You talk of children,

and grilling in the lawn at dusk.

You tell me of family trips upstate

to go camping in the cold.

But your eyes are still beneath the shadow

of your smock, and the rain is steadily

falling. My cigarette plumes

in the streaky wetness.

You and the crowd have begun to disperse.


An open fire hydrant wets the shores of the Bruckner Expressway

boasts of glistening children.

Twenty-six pigeons circle a corner

and are released from their pervasive fear, even if just for a second.

They dreamt of horses under the veil of a smoggy night,

children travel alone in their dreams.

And the mute spoke, and the blind saw and the deaf heard

and all was fiery in the anachronistic night.

A prophetic child and a clueless cat sang in the streets,

knocking down towers and shaking the graves of priestesses and fliers for UFC 2018.

They spoke until their tongues turned dry,

like folk singers on the high Sierras, they were spinsters of their own tales.

Weaving canyons and rocky dales,

They broke the day, they carried the papers to posh patrons

They turned over the dead-lined news.

Rivers broke, a flood watch flooded across flashing iphone screens

toward an electrical heat wave.

And lined in fishing fleet, well-worn Spanish men found Hemingway

safely moored in an East River dock, with Crappies, Sea Robins and an occasional Stripers.

Bizarre rises of small sharks caught deep currents, darkened only by motorists

Who walled the FDR overpass;

Currents that extend like jet-liners rapidly ascended to new rays of stratosphere,

clarified the surrounding presumptuous air.

And they speak of gentrification in the still pools of suburban delight,

Hipsters where families of generations separate their torn ends, re-wove

Seeking recompense in church or a tea-time Sundays

that fondled with disaster and teetered

finding loyal squadrons of brothers to soak up the drenched night.

Scattered geese with Herculean audacity, dismantled

and unified rows of tree-filled streets.

The approaching protesters and migratory raptures heated outside.

About the Author

Jonathan Perez

Jonathan Perez is a full-time prosecutor who has previously published a poem in Prelude, the online literary magazine. His work has been read at various open mics in Brooklyn, where he lives.