My Late Adolescent Poetry, Translated Into Plain English

by Sarah Marian Seltzer

“The List Poem”

Avenue A, Tompkins Square Park,
The Bowery, Ludlow Street
These are places in New York
Where I hung out over winter break.
I hope some guy in poetry class
Reading this,
Thinks I’m cool,
And asks me out for coffee.

Hefeweizen, Beaujolais, grappa, kir
I am underage yet I can still list drinks!
How sophisticated is that?
Particularly for someone who hangs out on Ludlow street.
Foreign words do sound nifty
When italicized in a poem,
And these are the only foreign words I can think of
Naturally, because I am drunk.

•••“The Greek Myth Reimagined Poem”
Demeter’s daughter Persephone
was abducted by the monarch of Hell
for eating a pomegranate.

And my roommates
without permission
ate all my birthday cake
when they were stoned on Saturday.

These two stories are related
because they are about theft,
food, and the passage of time.
I don’t know why anyone
would not find this juxtaposition
incredibly striking.

•••“The Unrequited Love Poem”

I have a brand-new crush — 
my crush does not notice me yet.
I feel like a leaf under his boot
I wish he were under my boot
and I could step on him carelessly
then twist my heel, like on a cigarette butt
However, my self esteem is not quite there yet
hopefully it will improve though
I could do all kinds of work on myself
 — or you know, my crush could just notice me.
(See what I did there? Mentioned my crush
So I could bring this this poem full circle
of course, not because I’m obsessing.)

•••“The Agonizing Conflict Poem”

My heart feels split in two
like Hamlet’s mind, or the House of Usher.
On one side there’s feminism:
Fraternities promote date rape
chauvinism and all sorts of bad stuff.
On the other side: expedience.
At the frat there’ll be a keg and
my fake ID’s been getting turned down.

What a dilemma
a schism, fissure, a rending.
Those are some “poetry words”
which express that it’s torture
to alone be seized by moral qualms
in this corrupted world.

•••”The Post-Mortem Poem”

Yesterday we saw each other in the hallway
for the first time since we broke up.
I was carrying a textbook
A textbook that I had never even read
maybe like I never “read” your intentions.

I don’t even like you, for
you’re something of a douche
But this was the most
interesting sequence of events
in my routine this semester
at least since the cafeteria
had taco night.

Therefore I will continue to analyze it
in a long series of poems
maybe even a cycle.
Wow, that would be so impressive.
I think I must be the next Edna St. Vincent Millay
or maybe a jollier Sylvia Plath?
Oh hey, my roommates have a bong!
Umm, muse, I’ll check in with you later.

Photo via jull/flickr.

Sarah Marian Seltzer is a writer, mostly of prose, in New York City. Find her at @sarahmseltzer or