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Recorded for Poem-a-Day, July 3, 2017.
About this Poem 

“From the remove of standing on a balcony and looking down on a street, it’s sometimes possible to believe in a brighter future. Writing this, I had in mind a black-and-white photograph titled Mysterium der Strasse (Mystery of the Street) taken in 1928 by the Bauhaus photographer Otto Umbehr (Umbo).”
—Mary Jo Bang

In the Street

Here we are, on top of the utopian arc. The water is shallow. An oil spill shimmers on the surface like a lens catches light and folds it in front of a mirror. If someone stands next to you, they are there, even when outside the picture. Which makes total obscurity relative to luck and such. Unlike the law, architecture lasts. A façade, like an ideal, can be oppressive unless balanced by a balcony on which you can stand and call down to those in the street, Come over here and look up at us. Aren’t we exactly what you wanted to believe in? 

Copyright © 2017 by Mary Jo Bang. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on July 3, 2017, by the Academy of American Poets.

Copyright © 2017 by Mary Jo Bang. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on July 3, 2017, by the Academy of American Poets.

Mary Jo Bang

Mary Jo Bang

Mary Jo Bang is the author of several books of poems, including A Doll for Throwing (Graywolf Press, 2017). Her poems have been chosen three times for inclusion in the Best American Poetry series.

by this poet

poem
Now we sit and play with a tiny toy
elephant that travels a taut string.
Now we are used and use in turn
each other. Our hats unravel
and that in itself is tragic.
To be lost. To have lost. Verbs

like veritable engines pulling the train
of thought forward. The hat is over-
turned and out comes a rabbit. Out
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poem

One man is many. I never said he left me but he left when he thought I was. Yes, and I too had thoughts that went on over time. Duration extends into the future, wraps around the past. Can anyone avoid saying, I once was. Of course now you have your test tube babies. Your nuclear transfer animals. My brother was at

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