Most people are barely people and I’ve met everyone twice. Personalities copy and pasted from recycled memes you can find on Reddit, who pretend to exhibit behaviors they borrow from social disorders on Wikipedia. Give a hungry man a fish and you’ll feed him for a day, but give him the internet, and he’ll probably spend it anonymously calling other fish faggots right before his 10AM Sociology class.
“Gotta light?” She asked me outside, with peach mixed moscato on her breath and the feint scent of burning incense lingering in her hair.
She had a way with people- even in my heightened state of over compassion I could tell as much. There was a manner she looked your way that was so notable, that felt like suddenly hearing your name in public, but with eyes. Disarming and little captivating; how being noticed always is. And yes, it helped that she was beautiful. An all-American vee’d chin with an uncle named Chip, that mythical half they must be talking about when they mention two point five kids and a picket fence.
“Brighter than you know,” I replied, and struck a fire for her.
“You’re funny,” She said grinning, smoke and hair billowing from her nose. “You look unmade, and a little dangerous. But I can’t believe you smoke this menthol crap.”
She played it loose and hated slow songs, always kept a 20 hidden in her bra because mama didn’t raise a sucker, and she’d herded her own fair share of douchebags. Ink resembling May 2nd with a year I can’t remember occasionally trailing from out her sleeves.
“If I’m going to slowly kill myself, I’m going to do it right.” I said.
Her name was Cassie, not with a y, and it was short for Cassandra but don’t you fuckin’ dare ever call her that. Stacked to a low 5’4″ on her tippy toes- beautiful skin tinted in a blushed red, lips curved like a sunset or rose tinted Cupid’s bow. She had it going on, beautiful, but basic at best, eye shadow of a modern fashionista, but not the kind daft enough enough to romanticize vogue models or an eating disorder.
“I can’t handle it, I’ve got a VSD.”
“What’s that?” I asked.
“It’s like a hole in your heart,”
“I’m so sorry,” I replied. “What was his name?”
She was not a miserable person, nowhere near delicate- only threaded, maybe. Overexposed like an electric wire in the rain. A victim to the elements and boys who swear they’re different. With a hot heart for the coldest matters and a gentleness that feels more earned than inherent, she cried when she missed her train for work just like any body else. That bitter and hardened exterior only a New York experience can make.
“Who you here with?” She asked, squinting at something other than the smoke in her face.
But I’ve been wrong before.
These pills are small and delicate, helpless little orphans,
and my body is a temple. Ain’t nobody got it like
this little bottle of mine- white little capillaries
pills of death that pulse and keep me
One every four hours, do not exceed six.
I’m sixty nined from bars and dimes every minute so
I dose in doubles, puffing silver linings
on a rummy cloud. I am The Great Pretender,
forgetful historian, a series of bullet points
on what it means to be listless. I am the vague biographer,
caustic chronicler of the categorically insignficant.
But it’s not so bad. These woes whoa me no more
and dreams feel more real when I’m awake; I call it
lucid living. Though I’m still full of envy
a the bravery of corner vagrants, shouting crack-ed lungs
at pigeons in the park. But now he fades away, vague,
I don’t know where, like ripples in a pond. At least
he doesn’t linger in my mind and ruin me any more.
My heart no longer brags- no more
I am I am I am’s– it sighs.
But twice every four hours, my smile comes
easier, and I can see the faults in our starlit eyes
and badly thatched hearts. Stale highs eventually swing
violently low and I have to stop myself
from smashing something delicate. A bottle, or myself.
And I would, if only I could get a grip, but when
the night grows teeth and digs into the heart and
memories, what is there to do? Set the alarm
and try again tomorrow.
January brings out the optimist in me. As the trees ash and turn pale I always get a little giddy. The dead of Winter is a vibrant reminder of how beautiful the death of things can be, that life is only an episode in a cosmic comedy with an indifference to both. The syndication is a good one, but always on the brink of being cancelled. Its hard to think that now, someday, something could ever grow. But Spring is coming, like it or not.
Spring, when the air is thick and always wet, loaded as a sentence and on the verge of tears (or rain.) Where my nostalgia goes into overdrive and I’m overrun in moments that are bulging like clouds; thoughts that are full yet empty and easy to navigate. Standing near the bus stop the first day of school with an over-sized hoodie. Kissing Tiffany in Bryant Park while something under our feet crunched loudly and made the world smell like skin and an end to childhood.
The experience is a winter wonderland of wondering where all that time has gone, but I don’t want to come off as a nihilist. To be honest as I get older, I no longer look to the past as often. But when I do, I look back at it all much more fondly. I want to reach out and call someone I haven’t spoken to or of in years, just to remind Tiffany, Kevin, Jimmy, Corina, or hell, even my father, that at some point I loved them dearly, and I might still.
There is a distinction between being angry
at or with yourself, and I am full
of a gangrene envy I do not outgrow.
Resentment rooted too deep in the soil,
hate, too often, being something inherited.
Oh how I want to be let alone, but I am no good
for myself. To replant would be a practice
in redundancy, a gray and daily drone,
monotony of the routine- a lovers caress
I used to miss, known all too well
and (not) enjoyed.
Doctor, doctor, won’t you dose my heart
in drugs and soma? Dry my dreams and
wet my sight, glazed awake and comatose.
Excuse these vacant eyes, medicated,
euthanasia of the soul. Asleep and listless,
I am not human at the moment, but something feral.
This land is my land and it is rotted,
overrun, a sickness spread like smallpox
blankets of love, life, friends, and other
tragedies. Ash it all and start anew;
controlled fires, prescribed burns
on bridges I won’t ever use.
How best but flame to break a bond?
It is wood, the oldest metal; tinder,
common, precious, and little. Smoke
rising to settle, the deed done but
never finished. Fuming eyes, smoldered
heart left alone to wonder-
how will I get around myself?
I’ve lived, broke bread with kings and
slept in tubs and public with the
broken and Diogenes. Alms and dearly departed’s
to men slain, made high or even by the needle.
Men leaning on a parking meter on 149th Street,
neck limp on passage to methadone clinics
and Elysium. Cigarettes bought and passed along
from one to his dearly delirious brother; shared puffs,
solemn thanks thank you th-thank you papa,
mumbling vows as they put the filter to their lips, sacredly,
like a Eucharist; an overdose baptisms.
I’ve lived, I have beloved and been beloved,
honey-eyed and drunk off nothing but a feeling.
Soft Saturdays staring at the freckles of her forearm,
fingers wandering and reading the arches of her body
like her skin was braille. Doors locked, blinds wide open,
condemned couch confessions with kisses and a slight of hand
trying to figure out where one of us starts and the other ends.
Stuck in a snowstorm of Tennessee and ourselves,
trying to justify why together we felt so centered.
I’ve lived, needed, and learned to do without.
Nights fought against the sun, savage at a sunrise- circling
Columbus Circle hungover on Amsterdam, searching SoHo
solely for a pleasure. A fool letting the music confess things
so I didn’t need to, blowing a buzz and two hundred dollar tab
on a backless dress that was not worth it. Draft beers
and daft company homering in, the distinct reminder,
I am alone in a world of people.
I’ve lived, by God, I’ve lived, because my life has been my own.
And everything that has been is mine, and shall never be again.
Love is nothing but a well told lie,
comforts from a broken place bearing
gifts- from me to you, for me.
Dangerous, like a razor blade
under your tongue. A Touch
that needs more hands and kisses
with too many teeth. Emotional insurance,
unnecessary luxury, the promise
everything will be okay.
Even if it won’t.
And before getting better
making it worse. misery that bares no poetry
only regret and blood. Emotional miscarriages.
Desperate, needy, reaching for release,
like gasps of air while crying.