neon lights at noon

by Nkateko Masinga

the trouble with crying at Times Square
is that you are a body in a sea of bodies
sailing from one heartbreak to the next

the year is new & you are still just you,
except older, with less apartment space

& less breathing space and a neon red
flash flood alert on your phone screen

you blend into the scene. a neon green
woman dances at an intersection, joy
seeping out of every painted pore. you

offer her your metro card and a smile.
you are soon leaving this city anyway

at 7th Avenue and Broadway, you break
down again, affirming the threat of flood

this scene would be good, so good, if you
were auditioning for a breakout role in a
tear-jerking play about immigration law

& prozac prescriptions. but you are not.
you are merely grieving your twenties

& a failed loan application & a romance
lacking romance, the American dream

a splintered mess at your callused feet.
& this brightly lit city? it neither sleeps
nor sees you weep amid its neon lights


Nkateko Masinga is an award-winning South African poet and 2019 Fellow of the Ebedi International Writers Residency. She is currently the director of the Internship Program at Africa In Dialogue, an online interview magazine that archives creative and critical insights with Africa’s leading storytellers, as well as the founder and managing director of NSUKU Publishing Consultancy. She is the author of a digital chapbook titled “the heart is a caged animal”, published by Praxis Magazine. Her latest chapbook, “psalm for chrysanthemums”, has been selected by the African Poetry Book Fund and Akashic Books to be published in the 2020 New Generation African Poets chapbook box set.


This poem previously appeared in Brittle Paper.

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