Helen Tzagoloff


Crows’ screams crush my ears.
The brutal sun in the window.
The wind strokes and burns my eyes.

Cars have wheels, schoolchildren backpacks,
pregnant women engorged bellies.
Elevators swallow and disgorge.
Morning bangs into cellphones.
Can and bottle collectors tear open
heavy-duty plastic recycling bags.
Dogs sprinkle on signs.
A woman stops in the middle of the crosswalk,
says to me: “I’m a cashier in the subway.
People swear and spit at me.”

The friendly man in a wheelchair wishing all
a good day  is not by the Starbucks.
I put away the dollar bill I held in my hand.


You were here just before I came,
the current of air still warm.

Even if I follow you in the right direction,
I won’t catch you.

I may get close enough to hear
you laugh, get a whiff of sweat, shampoo.

You will disappear into the grass,
the sky, the sun beginning to set.

Helen Tzagoloff
was born in the former Soviet Union, coming to America as a child. She has worked as a research scientist, attorney and small claims court arbitrator. She had two books of poetry published: Listening to the Thunder by Oliver Arts and Open Press  and Fears and Pleasures, by Word Poetry. She lives in New York City.