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Jane Cassady
Poet

 


At Alto Cinco
do as the bartender says:
pinot grigio

I no longer live in Syracuse, but when I did, the Westcott Neighborhood was a magical home. I especially loved it in the early summer, when the peonies bloomed and the waxwings took over the trees. On summer nights it was the perfect treat to sit outside at Alto Cinco, Iron and Wine music wafting out through the open doors, sampling a different wine each time.

These were the nights I felt happiest, surrounded by friends, petting dogs as they passed, saying hello to the neighbors. I've yet to find a favorite bar in my new city (Philadelphia), but even when I do, Alto Cinco will always be the ideal.

Clinton Square fountain
soaks me intermittently.
You carry my shoes.

I wrote this haiku after a hazy, humid Syracuse night. My wife and I were feeling stuffy and claustrophobic, so we threw some beach towels into the car and drove downtown. We weren’t the only one who had the idea to jump in the fountain on that night. Whole families were out together, laughing and splashing. Kids were riding their bikes through the water, kicking up sheets of water on the other revelers.

I loved standing where the water came up, feeling it higher and higher on my back, cooling me off. It was one of the most romantic nights of our then brand-new marriage, and I’m excited to have a poster of it!

Humid moon rises
over the stopped clock tower
like a real city

I wrote this a couple of years ago at Clinton Square. It was one of those hot summer nights when you jump in the fountain, and everyone else is in the fountain. It felt exciting. Like when you get to Manhattan, and you’re, like, “Ooo! I’m in the city!”

It’s the way the buildings were lit up, and the way everybody was playing in the fountain. Those are beautiful buildings. And there’s something about the Gridley Building, with its stopped clock, that endears me.

Do you remember the film, It’s a Wonderful Life, where Jimmy Stewart keeps going down the stairs, and the banister comes apart? And each time he gets pissed off, but in the end he’s so happy to see the banister come apart, because he knows he’s home. It’s kind of like that: Old silly stopped clock tower.

Unexpectedly
a stone staircase in the woods—
very Narnian

Syracuse has a lot of stone staircases in the woods, but I’m referring one up by the community gardens at the top of Akerman Avenue. One day I was walking through with a friend, and there it was, all of a sudden. It was a magical experience. And that’s kind of how I think of Syracuse: a combination of city and woods, with a sort of magical, mysterious energy.

I liked the Narnia books, and I use the adjective “Narnian” for a lot of vaguely magical, woodsy things. I don’t know if it’s a word in the proper sense, but I think there’s a certain segment of the population that would describe things as Narnian. Like most of my friends would know what it means.

 

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