The City Inside Us

We walked the park in neon tank tops,
pulled ourselves up the sled hill, past
the stone shelters in the park. Our
hands yellow with dandelion, grass

lodged in our double-tongued sneakers,
we drifted past the long arms of soccer
goals. I think of you when I stand
in the middle of a subway platform, trains

on either side whipping thrums up my heels,
electric buzzes, Medusa hair , eyes closed.
Inches from tracks, body so close to the thrill
of steel. You picked cigarette butts

from the sidewalk like dropped pennies, lit
each with matches you stole from the deli.
We ducked under the yellow tornado slide,
flicked ants off our ankles, inhaled lipsticked

ends. We slid past the tree line, scraped under
a hole in chain-link to the cemetery, where we ate
peanut butter sandwiches and placed clovers
on anonymous graves. Your mother wasnít

in this one, but was dead. Canít you hear
them? Youíd say, and Iíd tilt my ear skyward.
You scraped love in your forearm, ragged scrawl
with an unwound paperclip. We bought

Teen Spirit deodorant in secret, stole berry
lip balm and Trident from CVS. Before
I moved you told me your uncle touched you;
how, when it happened, you thought of train

tracks, wishing your arms and legs underneath
wheels so youíd be just a head and then it wouldnít
matter. We walked cloaked in our language
to the soft-serve stand. Silence meant

distance, even then. He told me when Iím 13,
heíll pork me,
you said. I didnít need a textbook
to know. I canít see your face, but I remember that.
I hear you in every squalid corner of each

new city, all thatís familiaróa few sentences
lurking, distant wails of sirens, rock-rhythm
of the subway tunnel, your sneakers flipped
up over a power line.

Lauren Goldstein currently resides in the sub-zero tundra known as Omaha, Nebraska where she is Resident Assistant Professor of English at Creighton University. She holds her MFA in creative writing from Virginia Tech and still desperately misses the Blue Ridge Mountains. Her poetry has appeared in Willow Springs, Blue Earth Review, and The Blue Jew Yorker. She is a past recipient of the AWP Intro Journals Award in poetry. (

Boxcar Poetry Review - ISSN 1931-1761