George Ryan

Apartment Building Elevator

A small child reaches up and pushes home
an elevator button. She knows which.
In only months she will have learned to ask
which of the buttons can she press for you.
She and her proud father exchange a smile.
This may be the kind of look the Borgias
gave one another as their power grew.

Traffic Light

As I wait to cross Lexington Avenue
at 78th Street, a kid next to me
on a scooter, eleven or twelve, watches
the starting light like he’s a grand prix driver
and when it hits green he is gone. Going south
on the avenue, a guy steps on the gas
to beat the light. I do not see his face but
I know he is young, possessing reflexes
fast enough to stop a couple of feet short
of the kid on the scooter. I see neither
acknowledges the other. Each goes his way.


Your shoes, a man observed
as I waited to cross
at a Union Square light.
He looked at the shoes of
a woman next to me.
She ignored his remark.
Nothing wrong with her feet.
Pierpaolo Pitti –
this season? he inquired.
Of course, the woman snapped.
They’re divine, he announced.
With what I paid for them,
they ought to be, she said.
They talked about a store
and may have missed the light.

Someone Suspicious

In his residential
neighborhood some people
reported a small car
being driven slowly
up and down certain streets
almost daily, as if
the driver was watching,
maybe planning something.

He put word out that this was
his elderly father
who had moved in with him
and was trying to find
his way to his new home.

On a Sunny Winter Day

About twenty Canada geese browse
on grass at Battery Park City,
allowing anyone to come near.
A tiny girl in a pink helmet
with pink scooter and patient father
sings to them, loudly and carefully,
Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star
in what sounds to me like Portuguese.

Author’s Note

These poems are set in the urban environment in which four out of five of us live. They don’t involve an elevated or depressed emotional state and have no critical agenda. This is not to say there’s anything wrong with poems having an unusual background, high sensitivity or an academic underpinning. It’s only to say that you can see the things in these poems every day simply by looking. 

Photo by Norma Davis

George Ryan was born in Ireland and graduated from University College Dublin. He is a ghostwriter in New York City. Elkhound published his Finding Americas in October 2019. His poems are nearly all about incidents that involve real people in real places and use little heightened language.