Sydney Bernstein-Miller – Poetry


The turn of the tumblers deep inside
The only unknown I’ve yet to visit
Push open the door to my familiars
Where the Me lay thick and heavy.
Only just now returning and already I feel
The incessant need for new adventures

The familiar has its way of making me perturbed
So I hurry to unpack my things, laying them on the bed.
I try not to reflect while I’m away
Instead, I soak up all of the present
Like parched soil trying to thrive
And it is elsewhere that I do. In grand and beautiful ways.
I lift up yesterday’s shirt and allow myself to ruminate
To escape this temporary dwelling by breathing the otherness in

Today, elsewhere is the smell of cat,
A home tucked away in fallen leaves,
Sweat from a night of dancing
And an air mattress centered in a craft room

In this scent, I lose my motel room, this bed and my sprawled bag
The relief washes over me and my shoulders relax into my back

I have always tried to live in other places
When the other becomes my own, becomes home, it’s time to leave.
Long bus rides and the hum of train engines whisper to me when changes begin to settle
I begin to recognize all the faces and notice
How my preference falls in a coffee shop or small diner waitress.
That’s when I begin to feel the hunger for culture and strangeness
To be lost in another’s world, to roam
Where home is filthy streets
Shadowed by skyscrapers and littered with construction
And things like rowhouses, blue crabs and jazz blend in to a single word:

Because of this, I never own pets nor humor a man for long
And take comfort, instead, in subway strangers and local lovers
Conversing with them and trying
To fully know what natives learn in years,
In the weeks or months, before that tug takes me, again

There’s too many places I must go and so
Home is a suitcase with many different smells,
A backpack stuffed with recently washed sheets, a
Toothbrush and a creased, one-way bus ticket
        Home is wherever I haven’t been