Oh, I have risen high and been driven low. Seen men laugh the hell of winter in warehouse factories, smoke circles huddled to keep warm in the frost of poverty and nicotine snow. Stale gas station bread and piss poor coffee for piss poor patrons in piss poor jobs stuck in dead end wages. Together, strangely, in more than a word. Exhaustion does strange things to quiet the soul and make a family out of shared misery. Leonard made coffee cakes on Fridays. We ciphered cigarette breaks while Cassandra played lookout for the forman. Hank didn’t say much.
Oh, I have risen high and been driven low. Broke bread and summer nights with Yale graduates, yuppies who migrated to Washington Heights when even they were too broke for SoHo. Thirsty Thursdays and 5K Marches for whatever was popular at the moment. Empty nights full of cocktails on rooftops that overlook Manhattan and sympathy. Overseas relief efforts in LoFi filters, hashtagged humanitarianism at its worse. Intellectuals that are only in it for themselves.
Oh, I have risen high and been driven low. Met the greatest and worst minds of our generation, found little difference in both. The vagabond desperate to make his ends meet, and the conglomerate tied in a knot of vanity and himself. Where is the lesson? What is there to learn from these peaks of top and bottom? Nothing.
Life is a but a poor struggle, or a rich one.
Silence is golden, duct tape
is silver. Rope, a deep mahogany.
The trunk is black, your heart
a cold and frigid
Keep a bottle near me in case she kisses me and goes to sleep. Honey has a horribly twisted love in her lips I can’t resist, bent with a hand on her hip and pride. Dried tears and warm beers because we danced too much and forgot about them, Fingerprints on my lips ear, last place she touched or thought of me.
The opposite of amnesia comes between us and sunlight is the enemy. Forever severed by the sound of last call. What are we now? Two souls lost in pizza slices and where we wished we could be. Anybody but you, anywhere but here. Whispers and french cheeses. Coney Island kisses and a game prize.
Hold me like you don’t mean it because baby it’s cold. She shivers and I’m frozen. My floor creeks and her bed leans into us like a depression.
I don’t know how to talk to you, and although I’d like to.
texting at this hour might not help that effort,
but, I’ve got midnight in my blood and its the only time
I feel like being honest. The moon must hold some magic
over me. I should be in bed
rather than emptying the bottles of my emotions.
But that’s tomorrows problems. For now,
I’ll stand still under Mercury,
counting stars that don’t appear
above my empty city, say a little prayer
and ask Hermes for deliverance
I’ll ask: is it better with your father yet?
Have you had vegetables today?
When was the last time you read your palm
and saw a future instead of long and
useless lines? Are we still friends?
Do you even care? Who warms your bed and stokes
your hair? Do I sound jealous? Should I not be?
Why does it feel like I’m questioning air?
Did you know that I will always love you,
and that your name carries a weight
my heart can never ever shed?
No respite in highway lines,
only long and lonely roads.
Weals burn frostbit hearts cold,
when love is warm,
and yet the stars
do not align.
Love at first sight is nonsense, or so goes the cynic; an illusion and silly little phrase we parade around to make sex and marriage seem more magical than they really are. It boils down to what the stupid body wants and we mentally justify afterward, finding any excuse to validate the unnecessary and coming off like a douche either way. Like when someone tries explaining the use of a camera inside of their refrigerator, or why they decided to have children.
But the fact of the matter remains- when I met May I was mesmerized. Her hair, was it maybe? So red and brutal on a stranger. Bleeding down her back and looking full of Fall. The confidence of knowing what a decadent disaster a house party is, but taking the time to curl and color her eyelashes anyway. It’s indescribable really, her character and what it did to me. But since I am trying to make you love her as I did, I suppose I should try.
She carried herself like a woman twice her age and half as condescending. Pleasant and friendly in a half-sincere sort of way. But blatant, the way normal people should be. If she said she loved your outfit it was always off the cuff and out of tangent, like when you proved her wrong about who won best picture in 2017 (she thought it was La-La Land.) And when corrected her pitch shifted extremely from high and low on vowels, stressing consonants along the way.
“See, look, Moonlight,” I said, showing her my phone.
“Ohhhh my Goddddd, I love your shoessssss where’d you get themmmmmm.” She said, turning down the hall before I could answer.
She was mean but didn’t mean it, I think, and I could tell by how her eyes darted for a reaction to what she said. The way you tell a two year old not to touch that, and they reach…just for a second. Hand inching to that electric socket. Eyes 5+ feet high staring down. All that ceiling, all that ceiling. And they reach, but not because they will. They reach to see how far they can push, they reach to get an idea or a glimpse of what you might do if they did. But they don’t.
That was the way she had.
“Do you have a light?” I asked her in the hallway.
“Brighter than you know,” She said.
“Yeah,” She said. A strand of blood dangling from her smirk. “I kind of like you too.”
Sandy asks me why I’m so quiet, and I don’t know what to tell her. Lately I’ve felt a lack for words and feelings although I’m pretty overstocked on both. I suppose I could be hoarding sentiments, saving them for a rainy day or bright eyed Jane on the subway. And I hear the tip-tip-tip-tap-tap-tip drizzle against my window sill but when I stare at the shelves then back at Sandy I just can’t bare to part with a single phrase or hug or Good Morning Beautiful. I’m overflowing again with so many thoughts in my head, but they don’t race any more. Instead they’re sluggish and relentless – dragging their feet through the recesses of my day while I’m in the shower or silently consoling strangers on the train. This afternoon I made a best friend and we carved our names on a tree trunk just outside of town although he doesn’t know it yet.
Sandy knows it though, I think. She knows too much sometimes.
And normally stuff like this is fine because I’ve always kind of lived my life with head in the clouds (and between warm legs,) just musing for amusement and just going through the motions with my body on autopilot. I’ve forgotten what the sun feels like so now I’m restless and sticky and asking what this thing dripping down my brow and heart is. Sandy says its pulp, and then I wonder if she’s calling me a fruit or something she can squeeze dry. I guess human adaptability can also be a pretty terrible thing when you think about it – becoming so used to something that the opposite feels like a threat. What a strange notion, to consider that I’m not used to happiness. It’s such an off term also if you read too deep into it like I always do: used to happiness. Used to it.
Happiness is using me, so happiness must be conniving.
So I’m far from melancholic, far from lonely, far from Moloch, far from observations of human desolation, but I’m never far from Sandy. And I’d rather not write about love if it ends well, to be honest, although that’s exactly what this disease is. I know it, but I won’t ever say it. Not ever. There’s a certain level of defeat that goes with that statement, and I don’t really mean in a sense of being ‘vulnerable’. It’s defeat because I feel I can still do better. My hormones remind me often – super models, and that girl who turned me down in secondary school, and that cutie on the third floor with the red hair and bitter eyes: they’re all as appetizing, have infinite possibilities and maybe friends that are probably even more attractive and more quirky and have even more strange and fascinating habits I can poke fun at over lattes and orgasms.
But they aren’t Sandy. They’ll never be Sandy.
I take pause with my hard heart, tally loss and strike lines against my armor. Victory does not define me, I am a sum of negatives and thyrsus, humming Hallelujah in a parking lot where the worse for wear are scarred and dangerous. Impatient and gumming for the first furlough that won’t shout evoë! Crowded in a sound that shouts and rounds up anti-Cardi B blasphemers before the play is felt.
Mango is my favorite smell and I’m more of a fruit fly than the social butter equivalent. I die a little inside when I see somebody be honest in a not-so-obvious way. Anybody can probably spare change to the homeless, but have you ever seen somebody die instead of speaking up for themselves? Cute boys and girls that like your friend more and furlough through your fingers like mayonnaise. But who cares?
You do, and I can tell by the way your smile is a frown dialed up to 10. Forced, polite, but not effervescent. Because somebody gets too drunk and tells a story all of us are pretending to not be ignoring, and you nod along like the rest of us but your eyes give you away. Glazed, wet, and full of fire. Fighting back words on the verge of ruining everything.
This disaster town can hardly hold us,
wild kids ingenuine as our frozen margaritas
and glass brooms. Keep the dust and repercussions,
we’re only looking for a good time. Radio on
repeat so we don’t lose our edge.
Weekend full of #hashtags on Instagram
and postcards reminding me
of how you left us.
It was cold that night – not that it made any difference to you back then.
With your first step out of the smothering embrace of a stuffy building, the cold wintry air was a stifling but liberating pang against your lungs. There was something indefinably invigorating about leaving the warm pleasantry of home into the unforgivably bitter night at so late an hour. The tender, luminous bulbs from indoors seemed to shine brighter as you took your first steps into depravity. A soothing glow calling out your name with a flickering beckon begging for you to return. But you turned your back on these cries, stepping nimbly into the enveloping darkness while ignoring its silhouetted plea. Waltzing into the familiar embrace of a dark city, the last trace of light recoiled from your jacket and the transformation was complete.
It was calm that night. At this hour, even in a city so restless as yours, everyone was either asleep or on the verge of it. But not you. You took a deep breath, soaking your mind in the wet moonlight, reveling in the chilly stings of the winds embrace, and watching your soft breath take shape in the form of a thin vaporing smoke. You couldn’t imagine wanting to be anywhere else. There was something almost exotic about this time of the evening – the silence deafening. Only occasionally could you hear the distant rhythmic melody of urban traffic joined by the thin blue layer glow of a television screen echoing from a first floor apartment window. As you walked, you enjoyed the rustling sound of your coat and the feint but persistent click clock click your shoes made against the hard concrete with each passing step. Not a soul to be seen for miles. The night was a voiceless orchestra.
Walking further, you creeped toward the distinctive but familiar black car with the ominously tinted windows. The world seemed to echo off of the small but elegant vehicle. There you saw the reflection of surrounding cars, the distant flick of a lamppost, a nearby cat scurrying across, the past, the future, the present, and most importantly yourself. This was no regular car, too unworldly to ever possibly be of this universe, but neither was it part of the ongoing symphony. As you neared the apparatus the passenger side window slowly lowered, carting with it a cheerful and familiar tone. He said something, but you didn’t hear what as you slid comfortably into the sleek leather seat. The inside of the UFO was even more brilliant than the exterior. Glancing through the window you felt completely separated from the outside world; the hue of the tints increasing this effect greatly. Though only an inch away, the orchestra now seemed unreachably distant through the thick dark coating enveloping anything that nestled in its den.
”…I didn’t say you could get in.”
You laughed, briefly, and flashed an unimpressed smile.
“Will you shut up and drive? We’re going to be late.”
He laughed too, as were your way of things. There was never a need for hello’s or how-have-you-been’s. Changing gears as you slipped on your seat belt, the engines soft rumble exciting your heart as the spacecraft came to life, bound for distant unimaginable lands. The night was young, adventure was just one mistake away, and you had an entire list to finish before the sun rose and made you human.
On rare occasion, I love being wired as a man. Where at a glance I can forget women bite their nails or have bad dreams, and for a night or afternoon are fun and fresh as snow.
There are degrees of sex, and Sheila’s had a thoughtless and intimate excellence. She removed her top, threw it to the side with a careless confidence that left me awed. With the fluid wave of her bangled and slender wrist, she cast aside any remaining notion of neglect or lingering resentment between us. With the stroke of her warming touch and kiss it no longer mattered why-weren’t-you-there or never-called-me-back. I forgot all rhyme and reason to why her being here was a bad idea.
Lust, although a primitive emotion, makes a lovely anesthetic.
Hesitance gone, caution numbed, I closed the breach between us and found her excitement waiting like an old friend. Our hands and lips, once so familiar, explored the whispered wants of each others skin once more. Silked and shuddering, we dissolved to a desire that was a devastation of man and woman, of what was expected or instilled in us. A thousand years of evolution torn asunder, become nothing to the nurture Nature had adorned us in. The windows shut and doors barred in- for a time the world had no place or say in anything. And in that freedom our instincts made demands that we surrendered to.
Her honey-darling skin was a temple that took me with open arms. She was a poem, a fire, a mountain in the distance that shook and filled me with a burning wander-lust. Such supple breast and forgiving lips, she accepted me entirely with a hushed thrill and gasp that simmered as our bodies found rhythm.
I laid her across the mattress, her hair long and tangled like Medusa- the ancient hymns and sacrifices of the Greeks and Incas riddled along the veins of her skin like snakes. I ran my tongue along these secrets and found a magic I’d only read and felt no part of. At times and touch she folded under my caress and presented herself like a gift, waiting to be loved and intensively undone. Her passion came in tides and suddenly she would revolt, rise and take control. Eager and commanding, she left me powerless and quaking under the demand of her wild search for her fulfillment.
Our highs peaked, settled, then took wind and climbed much higher. We gave and took of one another until there was nothing left to be given. Consumed by consumption, a gentle tide came like an earthquake and swept our frenzy to exhaustion. And as we lay catching our breaths, I traced my love into a poem on her back in fingerprints.
“I’m quitting soon,” I said, and she took it to mean the cigarette.
“Good. You know I hate that it lingers.”
“Like my affection,” I said. But she didn’t move, scoff, or breathe.
“You’re so heavy,” she said finally. “I worry that I can’t keep up. That you’ll get bored eventually with someone like me. Some day you’ll up and leave and you won’t look back. I know you don’t. You’ll leave one day like I’m not enough, like nothing ever is.”
They say there are times life presents us moments of greatness that define us. Where what we do will shape not just your life, but the world and those around you. In my bleeting heart I felt it to be one of those moments, and in that moment I was speechless.
“You’re terrifying,” she said.
I nodded and stared absently at the short distance between us. While the reality of one-and-only has always remained for me a distant implausability, for a touch and moment she was mine, if only for the night and orgasm. The night done, we picked up the fragments of ourselves scattered about the room like clothes. And despite the withhold we both know we’ll find ourselves here again, in a month or week or decade thereafter. Two torn souls tearing a room and each other for satisfaction.
The smoke may clear, but the dust, much like our hearts, never does quite settle.
Mourning in the morning, even by the evening,
smoked in the dusk – I’m the dew that meets the sunrise.
Smell me, taste me, feel me, breathe me.
Inhale – inhale.
Don’t you know? I’m the muse that gives the dawn
its minty kick. And I’m always there, but better
when you’re alone, talking to yourself
and crazy. Pass me the fifth baby,
before the day settles
and you miss me.
Never mind the never-mind’s
when we have this sleepless town
to dance and be depraved in.
The music calling, hips responding,
three missed calls on your neck
where my lips should be.