Watch TV and Hold Hands
He stopped on the train platform in front of me and stared menacingly. He was silent. Then he said, Let’s watch TV and hold hands. I turned to the man and woman beside me on the bench, but they had no response. When he walked away, I noticed the tear in his pants around the ankle. He paced back and forth several times before two police officers walked him off the platform. Soon my train arrived and I headed home for Thanksgiving. After I arrived, I told my father what happened and we laughed. My father said, Well that will be a new poem. And I said, It’s already done.
He used to call out Charlie’s Angels when I passed by him at the entrance to the subway where he sits on a crate with a cup in his hand. I was hoping he might say it again since I had lost most of the weight I gained from too many cheeseburgers and donuts. But still he stared ahead without noticing me. Then, on my way to a poetry reading, he perked up and said, How are you, Charlie’s Angels?
Painting and Poetry
On my way to work, I walk by a young woman who sits on the sidewalk outside my office. Her cardboard sign says, I lost everything except my hope and smile. My colleague said she lives in a shelter in New Jersey and comes to the city to beg. Her cup for donations rarely has more than a few coins. She usually does a crossword puzzle, but sometimes she paints water colors, abstract shapes and the city skyline. In the afternoon, she sells her paintings across the street. I used to have intense fear of ending up homeless when I am too old to work. My father retired a few years ago and he says that his life turned out far better than he ever imagined. It gives me hope that mine might, too, but if I do lose my home I won’t paint. I’ll write poems instead.
Karol Nielsen is the author of the memoirs Black Elephants (Bison Books, 2011) and Walking A&P (Mascot Books, 2018) and the chapbooks This Woman I Thought I’d Be (Finishing Line Press, 2012) and Vietnam Made Me Who I Am (Finishing Line Press, 2020). Her first memoir was shortlisted for the William Saroyan International Prize for Writing in nonfiction in 2012. Her full poetry collection was a finalist for the Colorado Prize for Poetry in 2007. Her work has appeared in Epiphany, Guernica, Lumina, North Dakota Quarterly, Permafrost, RiverSedge, and elsewhere. She has taught writing at New York University and New York Writers Workshop.
Write something about yourself. No need to be fancy, just an overview.