Tag: city

Never My Intention (But Then Again What Consequences Are?)

Window with a view to fill my lungs,
wet air, dry eyes, smoke and a
heart full of bourbon, sipping
out of a styrofoam cup the way you did.
Old Grandad on deck and jazz on vinyl,
humming bluegrass. Tapping foot. Cast-iron
skillet and some cheese I don’t know the name of.

Its a ritual, reserved for the unusual
moment I feel like missing you,
a maligna of the mind I treat
the way old doctors did insanity.
Summon a memory of the body,
the carnage of love, sapphire wounds;
gilded kisses lost so long ago that glass Summer.

But I don’t like the taste of whiskey any more,
my cigarettes don’t have menthol,
and lyrics sound like people I used to know
but have nothing in common with any more.
Friends lost for no particular reason
other than growing apart as people.

Strangers I shared death with.

Nature Is Nice, But 3AM Cheesesteaks Don’t Grow On Trees (aka Urban Disassociation)

A city is a machine that makes escape necessary, for calm that has the kind of quiet you’re afraid to disturb. Tall grass and stubby elms stretched close as the eyes could see, and far as New York pavement can afford. I walk briskly into leaves, dirt and fauna. Escape from sounds and bodies unnatural to the world. Hear sneakers smack against gravel that reminds me of playgrounds- black tar, swings, and innocence on the joyful verge of discovering the obscene. Autumn cold creeping up the side of my jeans felt tingly, and the grey calm of the sky gave the world a soft stillness like someone had just finished crying.

Nature makes a man feel at peace. No matter the trials that are ahead or behind him. We are made of earth, and water, and mud, so a return to the elements is a return to the self. A blade of grass stuck stubbornly out of the concrete, bike tires trampling the poor little thing. And then it stood up, shorter, but, I understood. In my heart I felt a swelling and gentle hemorrhaging demanding more life, more breath, less thoughts. Less thoughts. A sigh building in my throat, twenty stories high; some funny, some not. All bad, all bad. Air releasing from my lips the dark and heavy waste of the past inside of me like an exhaust pipe.

I clip my cigarette and feel a quiet in me I’m afraid to disturb.
Walk briskly into traffic, metal, honking, steel.
Arrive at the world of man, full of mud, dirt, and more of myself.

Hope (aka It Takes 21 Days To Break A Habit, and 42 If They Text You Back)

“Do you know what poisons cows?” He asked.

A plastic bag rustled between the long limbs of an old and wrinkling tree. Two paper coffee cups tumbled down the street, their plastic lids clinking against the grey drum of a bubble gum strewn sidewalk in New York. A car horn screamed from somewhere not too far away. The wind picked up, the bag rustled louder, cups clinked faster, and I thought there was a kind of music to the pollution of a city.

“Is Esperanza,” He said, but I wasn’t listening.

I was too busy watching three children skip-the-cracks across the sidewalk, near a fruit cart stand selling green and purple grapes by the pound without the seeds. Bananas bagged in bushels and boxes full of strawberries on sale for a dollar. All the fresh fruit low-income housing could ask for, all for cheap, and about a walks home away from expiring.

“What?” I asked, and Mingo shifted his weight against his cane. I heard his thousand year old Puerto-Rican bones groan, and his mustache twitched like a cats whiskers as he adjusted his body weight. He smacked his lips, further adding to my mental metaphor, which was a bad habit he’d retained after years of chewing tobacco.

“The cow.” He repeated calmly. “You know what poisons them?”

And I shook my head to show I didn’t.

We were leaning on concrete slabs that edged out the corner deli just steep enough to take a seat in. Me, looking too deep into the everyday scenery, and Mingo’s
lively and grey little eyes glinting, looking out to Third Avenue the way a farmer does his crop. He had the patience only age can teach you, the still yet sturdy air of decaying trees. Wise and old, or old enough to seem wise; I couldn’t tell. An old man can say just about whatever he wants and get a stunned tribute from me. Maybe that’s the remnants of my inner Catholic I’ve yet to snuff out: respecting elders and thinking too highly of them, feeling overwhelmed by guilt if I didn’t. Or it could be that I trust experience more than anything, because the hardness of life is also a teacher. And from what I’ve seen, we don’t learn as much from happiness as we do from the scars of healing.

Esperanza, is a plant. They eat it, and then,” He ran his index finger along his neck, a universal sign, clicked his teeth, and the little calf was done.

I clipped my cigarette, feeling a stubborn and humid heat smoldering around me. It was close to 9AM but the day didn’t seem to want to start. Sunlight lingered on the horizon and yawned across the fruit cart vendors temples, slouched between the children across the avenue who’d stopped jumping and found more interest staring at their own feet. Dingy rays dragged between the plastic lids nestling in the gutter, crawled along the sidewalk and halfway up the 99 Cent and bodega storefront buildings. Then, near the top, seemed to wince and suddenly retreat, giving up on ever moving on with the day. The morning was a low, dull Monday: fat, bloated, and sitting on itself, waiting.

But for what?

“Why do they eat it,” I asked. “If it’s poison.”

And Mingo shrugged.

Esperanza is a flower, bright and beautiful with yellow petals. And Esperanza is also hope, just as bright and ruinous. I couldn’t decide which he meant killed them first, the toxins or definition, and as I wondered this, Mingo dug his shoes into the sidewalk and began to show his roots.

“I killed somebody once,” He said unexpectedly. “Coz’ of a woman.”

He was calm, not sad or entirely delighted. Not resentful, or proud, but with the air of a man that’s lived, and in living, was reflective of what he has done. I lack the grace to remain kind in cruel situations, but a hot heart for the coldest matters. Mingo had purposefully either confided in me as a friend, or turned the sanctuary of our corner into his personal confession booth. And in either scenario I couldn’t think of what to say, so chose to remain silent. Preferred to come off as indifferent than commit to either condoning or forgiving him, listened as a cars exhaust coughed awkwardly down the road.

“You got a girl?” He asked after a while.

Down the block a gilded goddesses hips swayed toward us, and she reminded me of a girl I reminded myself to forget. Gray eyed and somber lip’d, the kind of face easy to compliment and hard to miss-remember. I was staring and I didn’t care, and the longer I dared the sooner I realized that familiar was just wistful thinking. She didn’t look anything like her. The sighs were all wrong. She didn’t have the unhappiness riddled along her creases, she didn’t hold me like a melody at the sight of her hand or freckled forearm.

She passed us and swooped around the corner, and along with her, that memory I had almost remembered was gone.

“Yeah,” I said to Mingo, and I heard his head nod solemnly by the sound of his neck creaking.

Strange, the debris our hearts seem to build even after years of street cleaning. Odd, how songs still sound the same but lose lose their meaning once we outgrow them. The plastic bag still rustled between the limbs of an old and wrinkled tree, and a car horn’s scream got louder, but sounded just a littler farther off. The wind died down, the cups sat silently in the gutter, and I thought there was a kind of music to the pollution of a human being.

“Never killed anybody for her though.” I added, and Mingo laughed, ominously.

It began to rain and the three children scrambled under the safe pan of an awning. I felt a buzz in my pocket and reached for my cell phone, stood admiring the grim blue tint of a text message from a girl I reminded myself to forget. I didn’t mind the rain and smiled as the droplets ricocheted off the screen, a familiar invitation and a promise.

“You might someday,” He said.

I clipped my cigarette and said goodbye.

Landmines Are Inherently Self Destructive (So Watch Your Step Around Me)

A breath full of ash that reeks of rum and cigarette butts all pointed the same direction. I don’t know the way home, and if I did, I’d follow the opposite road like a north star. The night is young and cruel as school children- crashing continuously against the dawn, trying desperately to be Erebus, the who will woo and suffuse the night.

I am intimately familiar with the immature inability to count your losses and call it quits. Hope’s kind of a dick that way, a flame of stubborn faith that burns so bright so long as the sky is navy blue. Every lark is actually sprinting towards an escape that doesn’t exist, and I wish I could have told myself back then, this obvious truth I was to stupid to realize or admit: that really, the day never ends, it only goes away for a while. And no matter how fast you run, eventually, the morning and all her responsibilities will catch up to you.

It’s the four o’ clock crowd loud and happy hour just kicking off, pleasant as a post 9 to 5 allows you to be. Yuppie caustic kindness, Can-You-Believe’s echoing down seventh avenue. Hardly the place to start a Monday bender, but I’d be damned if I let some calendar decide if the weekend was over or not.

They don’t have Heineken but I’m recommended something called “beer blanc,” by a casually well dressed gauge wearing douchebag. He’s wearing a hat indoors and what I can only assume is a flavor t-shirt whose irony is lost only on me.

“No thanks, just a double shot of Jack then,” I said.
“Is Evan Williams okay?” He asks, already pouring the damn thing.

I should have gone home then, but being surrounded by noise helps me focus. Silence is too distracting. Inevitably my mind starts to fill the gaps, and the thoughts that inhabit me are grotesque and overcrowded. A royal rumble of awful notions I need to bury in absent-minded conversations  or else be consumed by them.

“What’s that blanc thing you recommended?” I asked, and Douchebags eyes darted sideways, halfway to a roll.
“It’s a milk stout,” He droned, wanting out but not pouring fast enough to.
“I’m sorry what?”
“A milk stout.”
“Beer? And milk? That’s gross. What if I’m lactose?”
“Then you shouldn’t have had a Guinness.” He said, a tastefully and casually bored retort I simultaneously loathed and admired too much to take personal. Because I had a Guinness some hour earlier, and the idiot succeeded in making me feel quite stupid, enough to not even bother Wiki-ing if he was right. (Because he was.)

Hard cut, five hours later- the place has become a loose tie affair, full of tastefully popped derrieres and half baked conversation. Bars are a miracle, let me tell you. Nobody really feels like friends but nobody wants to drink alone, so they meander to where the wood is dark, the space is small, all for the sake of feigning company. And I’m with them, terribly, still trying to make friends with gauged Douchebag.

But by now the musics too loud and he can casually wave whatever I try to investigate into the milk and beer dichotomy. There’s darlings out in tube tops and muscle tee’s the hour finds appealing. A pretty little thing called Esmeralda parks beside me, the beautiful tired eyed of a forty something trying to make the best out of what she spent on a baby sitter.

“Your eyes” She says. “Are so sad.”
“Because they’ve been waiting to look at you.”

It’s not a good joke, but she laughs, strokes my hand and offers me a drink. I look at her, cute, veins of her crows feet I’m reading like palms of possibilities. I like the simplicity, the lull of alcohol that’s made us get along so lovely. Her smile so easy and my faux confidence almost bordering on real. She is an option, an alternative to the dark and lonely road. All it would take is a yes to tomorrow, a letting go of yesterday. To take her hand in mind and measure the hum of her pulse and cherry lips against my own.

“So what do you want?” She asks, eyes lean and suggestive. I felt the warmth of her look, the gentle in the wordless caress. Elevator eyes, meaning all I had to do was play it cool and avoid any touchy subjects like religion, politics, or anything stupid as thoughtful. Something light, like what she likes to do on the weekends and favorite Youtube videos. We could go somewhere after, I could tell by the way our knees touched and hands found each other.

So I pointed to the guy in gauges.

“Tell him I want a Guinness.”

Ms. Behaving Taught Me Better Than Politeness Ever Could

It’s cold, so women start to put the sandals away and whip out the fur hoodies and finger-less gloves.  Your #MCM’s caesar haircut fades into a fitted cap, cuffing season hashtags, two-button trench-coats, and fuck-it-every-other-day-I’ll-shave Winter stub. Five o clock shadows look more natural at six pm when the sun quits early and the city bundles into itself into November. Every bar and cafe this side of Houston shuts the beach umbrellas and tabled awnings, brings out a meme sign that’s not exactly funny, but clever enough with a Rick and Morty reference to buddy you in under the promise of cheap shots and warm company.
 
“I can’t stand hamsters,”
“But why did she think denim was okay,”
“What’re you on your period,”
“He was cross eyed but very cute”

This city speaks to me, offhand reveries echoing in the turnstiles. Ever-day glories I overhear gladly between ocean-scening ads lining up the train billboards on my way to anywhere but home. Spotify on my headphones and verbal traffic on the Canarsie bound L-line in Union Square, a cozy corner by the doorway I’m sharing with a tinkerbelle not near half my height, some baby carriages cluttering the aisle, and a giant [from the North, probably] leaning his head against the tiny six foot six inch train celing [I measured that shit, maybe] head space.

Its a sight. And an experience you cant appreciate until you’ve lived here long enough to love hating this city.

*DING*

“We are being held momentarily by the trains dispatcher. Please, be patient.” The monotone recording repeats for the eighth time in the last eight minutes. My leg started to cramp, the entire commute let out a collective sigh, and the anxiety of the wait was enough to make even the calmest man something awful.
But New York has its perks, despite itself: so much social overcrowding the most mundane become monumental.

I got off the grid-locked transit for a taxi in Union Square. Yellow cabs are a habit of a time behind us, and besides, who the hell can afford it or even carries cash? So I finessed a few flicks on rectangular glowing screen and waited in a Starbucks for a convenient lift to my evening. One tall blonde and awkward asking for the bathroom password later, I’m faux-pas among strangers in an Uber Pool. A smooth ride considering, A cluttered group of over-priviledges twenty-somethings has gone much worse (just ask the last election.)

So I spent the ride listening to some loser describe getting robbed by a cop that pulled him over for no reason. His son was coughing up a storm with the cold chill of passenger windows blasted open, a (wife?) staring at her phone and getting angry at a runny nose nobody controls. Another bored brunette sits passenger, laughing at herself or at her phone. The kid says goodbye when she exits and the door slam shuts in response. He plays with his Iron Man helmet in quiet, the sedan shuttles off to the next drop point, and somewhere between Broadway and Amsterdam somebody whispers:

“What a cunt…”

And the whole car laughs.
 
It’s warm, despite the gloves.