This website does readability filtering of other pages. All styles, scripts, forms and ads are stripped. If you want your website excluded or have other feedback, use this form.

The New Yorker

Sign in Shop

Poems May 19, 2014 Issue


By John Freeman

I saw it being built, flat as a Frisbee
in the bowl of those foothills, trees disappearing
month after month, replaced by smooth roads,
empty schools, pork-chop lots, and cul-de-sacs
spotted with unfinished houses, the noise walls curving
the roadway into one long cement smile.

We used to drive up there in our parents’
cars—past the starter castles—to the daisy-wheel
junctions with their stoplights sheathed in muslin
like some beheaded prisoner, the air
so high and tight and piney you could hear
construction hammering from miles away.

It was a ghost town but for that sound. We’d sit
in the unfinished high-school stadium, at the
lip of what would become the bleachers, the half-
built Cineplex in the distance like a prison, and listen
to nothing turning to something, waiting
for the sky to turn purple and the traffic to hush.

Then, curfew looming, we’d race back across
the newly edgeless city, our radios turned up
to drown our pounding hearts, tires screeching on
the silky arterials. We felt it would never end.
The empty sky, the city that didn’t matter.
We held our breaths when we clicked off
the headlamps and ran through stoplights.

Recommended Stories
Sporting Scene

The Real Ugliness of the Robert Kraft Story

The New England Patriots owner will be able to pay any penalties stemming from a prostitution charge easily enough. What happens to the people he is said to have paid—and the unknown numbers like them?

By Louisa Thomas

Feb. 22, 2019 Profiles

A Suspense Novelist’s Trail of Deceptions

The mysteries surrounding the author of the best-selling thriller “The Woman in the Window.”

By Ian Parker

Letter from Trump’s Washington

Audience of One: Why Flattery Works in Trump’s Foreign Policy

Ask Lindsey Graham.

By Susan B. Glasser

Feb. 22, 2019 The Front Row

Richard Brody’s 2019 Oscars Predictions

There’s irony, comedy, and pathos in the effort of the Academy Awards to create a successful TV show in order to shore up Hollywood’s ruins.

By Richard Brody

Feb. 22, 2019
Sign in Shop