Port Authority Poem

There were real laws that I learned
& then forgotRain o or rather

they were cowered
out of me when they said 

walk left I walked right when 
they said what’s 

in your bag I 
said pillows &

I was so terrified
the pillows

would become anything but
pillows even 

if it was something as innocent 
as a raincloud I’d still be lying

& then I might appear very suspicious
& then who knows

what else I could become rude
broad-shouldered con-

frontational anxious erratic 

uncooperative I
might bruise my cheek clumsily

against the concrete veiled thinly 
by tile might want to

even go down 
with a fight or at least look them 

in the eye just
one of them & say something

memorable so that they’d
remember me like Look at me

I’m human-shaped or
I don’t want to be a good

citizen I just want to be
adored but of course I

didn’t there was no 

instead there was 
a woman she was

shorter than me she said
Open & I 

my bag a sleeping bag

tumbled out when they
walked away I was still

stupidly re-folding 
the evidence

into the bag everyone
walked around me 

everyone gave me space no 
I didn’t ask for their names 

I was unharmed
which meant nothing 

happened you can ask
my mother when we

talked later on the
phone I told her

what I ate for lunch

Bailey Cohen-Vera is the Assistant Editor for Borderlands: Texas Poetry Review. A poet, essayist, and book reviewer, his work has appeared or is forthcoming in publications such as The Iowa Review, Southern Indiana Review, Waxwing, Grist, Poetry Northwest, The Spectacle, and Cherry Tree, among elsewhere. Bailey is an MFA candidate in Poetry at NYU, where he serves as a Wiley Birkhofer Fellow, writing obsessively about bananas.