To the Cities I Have Only Visited on Layover – by Morgan Nikola-Wren

To the Cities I Have Only Visited on Layover

I have not seen
the parts you save
for your more devoted guests.
But you showed me
your concrete slab of a back-end,
and trusted me
with your hurried outskirts.

I have not spent more
than a fraction of a day
on the fringe of you,
but I have caught
your newborn sunrise
in the corner of my eye.

I had only a few spare hours
tucked into my suitcase,
but I spent them all at a window
watching you dress yourself,
and press yourself
into a skyline that could impress
while I lingered
among your cast-off motels.

I have seen
the red-eyed wanderers
that you spit across borders
with tumbleweed hair
and not enough toothpaste
in their carry-on.
We carry on
like old friends
for the length of a gate’s line,
until I am watching you shrink beneath me
into matchbox cars
and patchwork squares of grass.

I tell myself you cities all look the same
from the upside of the clouds.
I tell myself there’s no point
in wandering my way through you now.
It would be redundant,
like kissing someone
who has read all your poems.

Morgan Nikola-Wren is a winner of the Pangaea Worldwide Poetry Slam, 2016, and has published three books of poetry. Her debut book, Magic with Skin On, received a Goodreads Choice nomination for Best Poetry Book of 2017, and was listed in Barnes and Noble's '25 Must-Reads for National Poetry Month.' Morgan ran away with her husband's circus for a year, but now works at a school library, which is not all that different. She is perpetually searching for new favorite words, more black clothing, and the perfect design for her next tattoo.

Statement by the Featured Artist, Shelley Thomas: I’ve often felt the pang of regret at too short a comb along a new stretch of beach. The poem celebrates chance encounters, happenstance, and the glimpses and glances at places narrowly known.  Fringe knowledge. A hampered linger at the edges of people and places.  Something incomplete. The first thing that drew me to this photograph was the vantage point of the camera lens.  A distance is established. A passing glance at the man’s creation in the sand.  The encroaching tide that is certain to erase it.  What ends up being for me, a forever incomplete mandala.  Even the fog seems to conspire by way of marine layer, muting and obscuring the horizon where ocean and sky meet.
Art: “Sketch Book,” 2017 (Capitola, California)