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Michael Sickler
Poet

 


Glowing neon bright
the Salt City's art deco
stainless steel night light.

Since they redid the lighting of the NiMo building, the building has really become a monument in Syracuse. I’m a big fan of art deco, anyway. You can’t build those buildings anymore. And here you have this incredible glow that comes up from these tiers in the building.

As for the “nightlight,” I have one in my bathroom. Somehow the two dovetailed. I kept thinking, here’s this funky little plate, and the glow is behind it. And with the building, you’ve got this façade, and you get a glowing light behind it. I thought, you know, that’s like a nightlight. Syracuse is a big sleepy city—so there you go. Click it on, click it off—it’s NiMo.


February snow
falling ashen embers leave
cold fire on my tongue.

My writing process goes all over the place. I know what the illustrators gravitate towards so I decided I would pack the haiku with a lot of visual images that would give them a simple line to illustrate. I thought about the typical February snow in Syracuse and our gray winters. I started thinking about this dual image of fire and water. So, the ashen embers were flakes coming down. At one point, every kid tries to stick his tongue out and catch a snowflake. Hence, the cold fire, because when it’s cold, the chill feels like fire. I decided to just create a simple set of images that I know, visually, would appeal to them. I don’t know who illustrated it, but I’m obviously dying to see it.

Men in fedoras
sit in Italian cafes
espresso and smoke.


I started going to Rocky’s Cigar Shop on North Salina Street to smoke cigars. The city had that big push to resurrect Little Italy. They started out with these little Italian shops, with Italian men sitting outside, drinking their espresso, smoking cigars. Sadly, that seemed to go nowhere. With harder times, many of the shops closed. Of course, Rocky’s is still there. Rocky’s will always be there—open twenty-four seven. There are a lot of Italian men who go to Rocky’s. It’s also a real cross section of people. A cigar shop, like a barber shop, is one of the last places to have a small-town feel to it. You meet some interesting characters. Everybody from the down and out buying lotto tickets to “hit it” to wealthy Italian men sitting around, smoking a cigar, and talking about their mothers.

 

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