Archive, Poems

Ari Banias: “Authentic City”

Ari Banias’s poem “Authentic City” appeared in the Summer & Fall 2014 issue of Poetry Northwest and is included in his recently released collection Anybody (Norton, 2016). Banias will be reading in Seattle at Open Books on Friday, December 9 with poets Stacey Tran and Bill Carty. 


Authentic City

summer rain, a gasoline smell, almost mustardy, the unending pleasure flies seem to take in circling, the grey sky, how it’s edged in odd distant clouds, cars idling at the stoplight, their impatient honking, a rolled-down window with dancehall bumping out, the determination of taxis, rain that comes suddenly and suddenly ends, sparrows sheltering under a broad-leafed tree, an intimate conversation held in public, wet sidewalk, whether or not to buy flip-flops made in China (are any flip-flops not made in China?), so many plastics, a woman in curlers hurrying down the street, her hair ruined, the tipped-over trash can, the rusted bicycle chained to the fence, someone speeding, the argument over a parking spot, the frayed rosebush, the varieties of other insistent flowers, the smell of garbage, a plane chalking its way across a swatch of sky, the mobile police surveillance tower parked around the corner over a week now, how its presence begins to seem normal, a dirty welcome mat, ceaseless hammering, an elderly man very formally dressed, the metallic tapping of his cane as he passes, the sky slowly clearing, but clearing to what, because blue isn’t clear it’s blue, two guys each holding a basketball, one guy with groceries, one with his mother walking slowly, a very bright yellow cloud, the neighbor who made signs for a living, who died but signs of him live all up the block, Custom Signs Here, No Parking Thank You!, Active Driveway, Divorce $250, Have It At MY PLACE, rain again trembling the leaves, the birds still huddling, a cat eating leftovers then shitting in the neighbor’s potted plant, a car alarm, a bird whose song mimics a car alarm, oil stains on the road as on a favorite shirt, spattered, faint, but noticeable if you know where, how, why to look.

Ari Banias has held fellowships at the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown, the Wisconsin Institute for Creative Writing, and Stanford University, where he was most recently a Wallace Stegner Fellow. He received an MFA in poetry from Hunter College and lives in Berkeley, California.

photo credit: Jurassic Blueberries Leaves Among Seeds – 2016 via photopin (license)