from Alice in Greenpoint
By Iva Ticic:
Alice in Greenpoint
Four glasses of fine red wine at a dinner party in Brooklyn
and you go from being a wallflower to discussing Trieste.
Though they mostly wanted to speak of Girls at this soirée—
An irony which caught in the mind of the writer
as an annoying bug caught in the web of a spider.
These four girls in Greenpoint discussing a show
about the four girls in Greenpoint
But I felt like Alice, the one from the book,
crossing on to the other side
of the baroque looking mirror the apartment contained— a
s if I haven’t been looking as it is
to check if I’m worthy, in presence of smooth skirts.
Meanwhile, the wine glasses have been placed on a puzzle
portraying Manhattan in three hundred pieces
For there’s a piece missing in midst of the chatter
the clinking and clacking
with edges of crystal leaving a stain ring
on the Chrysler building.
The point of fixation and hypnotic frustration;
this elaborate jigsaw
without the very part which would have provided
someplace to draw meaning—
While white rabbits and grinning cats
are starting to be born
in the pregnant pauses of the evening.
And yet it gapes open, this odd imperfection,
shaped like a bug that chewed through the web
and eerily left.
I have eavesdropped all day in search of something
Under Brooklyn Bridge where sewers funnel into beaches—
I have found it in the reverb
stolen from the unsuspecting:
The girl who flings her Conway bag
back and forth, a Sunday church bell—
Chiming for the crimson palette,
the holy shimmer of skyscraper
swimming on water.
I mean just look at that shit.
The boys who wrestle in shaggy grass,
strangling each other with an
The lovers who say nothing.
A jet ski slits the water open like a wound;
I smell like coffee on the weekends,
if that’s something you’re into.
I want to live in the hollow
of your Steinway piano.
Right there beneath the
slender silk of peeled ebony.
I want to become
a part of your conversation
between the pulse
of your fingertip symphony
and the dignified elephant
which you saddle and tame.
I want to learn the dialects
of this foreign arena.
Where are you taking me?
Give me the keys by which to decipher
the treble and bass
needed in order
to follow the melody
of tangy disorder.
Please bring me along.
I can be very still
while you improvise symphonies,
ponder the harmonies—
I’ll translate the hum.
Today’s poems are from Alice in Greenpoint (Finishing Line Press, 2015), copyright © 2015 by Iva Ticic, and appear here today with permission from the poet.
Alice in Greenpoint: “Welcome to the world of Alice in Greenpoint where everything is an eerie reflection of itself but slightly different — the global village tilted and on air. Our speaker strides through a foreign landscape at once knowing and homesick – but for where? The traveler is in constant exile – but the poems are witty and joyous, brimming with expectancy and hunger. Such a debut collection!” –Marie Howe, award-winning author of What the Living Do and the State Poet of New York
Iva Ticic is an internationally published bilingual poet from Zagreb, Croatia, who has lived, worked and studied in the US, Honduras, and now China. Her poems and short stories appear in Four Way Review, Prelude Magazine, and The Tishman Review. In 2013, she was awarded the Academy of American Poets John B. Santoianni Award for Excellence in Poetry for her poem, “The Interpreter.” Alice in Greenpoint is her first published poetry collection.
Guest Editor’s Note: Ticic’s poetry rings the many changes of dislocation: in place, in time, in the long struggle to become one’s own self against all challenges. She maps the many misunderstandings we both try and fail to overcome in our lives. Even when we believe we do understand one another, we still wonder if we got it all. The title poem, “Alice in Greenpoint,” makes, among others, the excellent point that even if some people feel themselves seen, really seen, others are always standing nearby, looking on, amazed, mystified. There is always a missing piece. In “On Loan,” the speaker walks through the city looking for beauty, picking up bits of language like pebbles, keeping some, tossing others back into the water. “I have found it in the reverb,” she writes. In “The Interpreter,” she documents the place in between where the translator lives, nearly invisible, the only one to hear “the melody of tangy disorder.” Iva Ticic’s poems are built of the recognizable and quotidian, but also spangled with arresting phrases: “I keep dreaming of parallel lines/slowly diverging/like the first sign of trouble/between lovers” or “As if . . . to believe in something, anything—could never be innocent,” or “the holy shimmer of skyscraper/swimming on water.”
A NOTE FROM THE MANAGING EDITOR:
After nearly ten years as Contributing Editor of this series, the time has come for change. I am thrilled to expand my role to Managing Editor and provide the opportunity for fresh voices to contribute to this ongoing dialogue. Today and in the coming weeks, please help me welcome a series of guest editors to the newest incarnation of the Saturday Poetry Series.
Viva la poesia!
Sivan, Managing Editor
Saturday Poetry Series, AIOTB