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.
Rum on the floor and when we dance it’s sticky. with each step. But who cares, because the dark makes sense of what we can’t say out loud and is more aware of our hips and heart than we knew had feeling. Mistaken identities happen naturally when alcohol is involved, but we make the most of it. Pretend to be we are something other than what we pretend to be at 9AM. And if I should grab her waist and scream DESPACITO.
Words I wouldn’t consider were worlds apart but coming from his mouth is all I’m left feeling with. Dick moves in purposefully absent movements, I see through it and laugh at, but being the butt end of a joke still feels inclusive when you’re the punch line.
Should I touch the part between your elbow and shoulder that shines like a silver. Am I an animal to want you close to my body and suffocate in your perfume. So warm it reminds me of Summer, so dark when it’s early and I’m howling.
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.
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?
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.