Tag: men

Being Domesticated Is The Slowest Kind Of Suicide

Pathmark aisle misconduct, condescending at the magazines lining checkout. Pointing at other customers that look strange, or take twenty minutes to get their debit card out at the counter. It’s a woman with a purse the size of my impatience, she rummages through her bag and takes out an entire liter of seltzer water while I fight the urge to scream What-The-Literal-Fuck.

Behind her is an old couple standing desolate in marriage, still and confident in a silence only too much time together affords. One more person back is a boy with raven hair down to his flannel shirt he definitely got at Hot Topic – black nails, guy-liner, and a septum ring. The kind of kid you could tell does molly or LSD and definitely had a falling out with Fall Out Boy.

“You’re so judgmental, stop,” She says, and I make a face. “…maybe he likes Panic! At The Disco.”

I’ve been domesticated and it’s the slowest kind of suicide. My love used to be in a lonely street and empty parking lot, counting the grey tiles of the sidewalk and dingy lights of apartment windows. Empty sirens of the fire department whining down Broadway. I was mad and roaming, rabid and a little moody; roving Amsterdam for a fix, thigh, or feeling. Hardly a name, I dove into every speakeasy I could find in Manhattan. What I was looking for, I couldn’t say, but every night I thought I found it. In a strangers laugh when I said ‘you remind me of Tom Selleck,’ or the way a woman looked at me with disgust or elevator eyes. I tried to make love and friends quite endlessly, but then daylight would break and that victory, touch, or feeling would melt away from me like a dream.

“Gross, what was that?” She asks.

“What was what?” I said, hiding behind a grin.

“That thing your face did.”

My smile was a kind of sob nobody heard or could understand, a nightmare I share with May over dumplings and teriyaki sauce, or that bar with little pink umbrellas she likes to twirl and put in her hair. Johnny Utah’s, I think. Or was it Connolly’s?…Just some other pointless place to meet like a round table and discuss the immaterial but crucial happy accidents of our lives. I could give a list of what you should expect of her as a coworker, and if someone asks why I look so angry May could answer in numeric or alphabetical. It’s strange, how in the inconsequential we’ve found the pattern of each other. Not by some deep or alarming gesture, but with space, patience, an open heart.

“You mean smile?”

“Yeah, don’t do that again.”

“I’ll have you know my mom thinks I”m very handsome.”

I look back at my Bukowski, my era of erroneous, and I think I simply broke down in unrealistic expectations and the company for it. I mistakenly thought the onus of happiness was a burden, something to be waged and fought for. So I roamed for romance, thirsted for touch, lusted after the lack-luster and fleeting fulfillment of friends and flesh because I had a deep and awful yearning I’d yet to give to another person. And I was worried this rare and strange fruit I did not know how to grow might go unused and unfulfilled, left rotting in the dark cellars of my heart. Anxious and a little desperate- I gave it to any pretty face or fiend willing to take it. I was afraid, and over loneliness, I preferred to go bankrupt on a feeling.

“Never said it was ugly.” She replied.

“Then what is it?” I asked, and she thought for a moment.

“You’re always grumpy, like you’re constipated or that! Laughing, yes. You’re either mad or laughing. So when you smile its like this weird in between that’s not natural.”

But life is not a victory march, and much less a destination. Happiness is not a place or moment, but a pursuit. So when May tilts her face and I ask her what she’s thinking, with her smile wide as Sisyphus coming down to his boulder, I’m reminded that desire to throw myself against a wall is selfish and destructive. I remember that since September I’ve been living for more than myself.

“I know it sounds funny, but your laughter, it’s the most honest part about you. Like it comes from somewhere so deep inside of you that…I don’t know. I just like it better than whatever the hell that other thing was.”

“Some of the doctors said I was the best looking baby they ever delivered.” I replied, because the line is moving, and we are in Pathmark no matter if we are somewhere else.

“Can you back up a little? I don’t want anyone to know I’m with you.”

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.

You And Me And The Devil Makes Three

Her kiss is a relapse, misfortune,
worsening of my worst impulses;
an awful influence full of irresistible.
Her words are drugs and drugs are a clutch,
til highs do us part and lows make us
whole again. Bags of heavy yesterdays
weigh down, and I don’t know what to do with myself.

Taken hands, hushed words, rushed stalls-
what a waste to not grab waist and do
a four letter word (love). Plans to keep
and make her a home, 5PM lockdown, rush hour,
crowded public when doubts double and my mouth
taste like cinders. Slipping  into a thought of her
like a favorite pair of jeans. Snug, familiar,
warm; she fits well. Run my thumb along the holes
and coffee stains, wonder what memory or feeling
the moment will settle as, when the honeys and the moons
fade. If my name will be a sigh, wistful as a cloud,
or vague as rain humming to what the radio plays. 
A feeling haunting me in the distance, a reminder
that you are in tangles and I am tangelsome.

Still I pray for relapse and disaster,
addiction and her sex to once again step into me,
far from fog and drizzled Sundays, so I might tug
on her thoughts like a shoelace.  I am undone again.

Two Is A Crowd, Episode II

No bouncer at the door and a newly drawn sign “Welcoming Lost Souls To Oblivion…and $9 Cocktails. For Madmen Only.” I made my way in.

“I told you we had a true one, Anna,” Said Sam, his gunmetal gray eyes the first I met as I walked in. Like he were waiting for it.

Anna, with her back half turned and a song see-sawing her her waist and shoulders, “He must have a sixth sense for a good time,” Said Anna.

Everything inside could have been crafted by their hands. Dim lights, swirvy armchairs, the smooth smell of leather and wood in the air. Hems of polka dot skirts bobbing along the sparse room singing and laughing with freshly decked men that had their ties loose and top buttons undone. All singing and laughing to the melody of congruence. Even the bartenders chiseled and serious chin lowered and smiled, like he was in on it. Whatever “it” was, or is.

“Lucky guess,” I said, taking my place in the only space between them. “Next time don’t brag, and give me an address I can Google.”

I smiled, or tried to, but Sam looked away. Displeased and annoyed, like he’d been given a poem for a place to meet up but nobody showed, I thought I was being casual, but when I turned to Anna even she had hid her face,

“How did you find us?” Anna asked. Boredly. A question with about as much significance as How-Was-Your-Weekend on Monday morning.

I sat between them and stared at my bubbling pint for the courage and words. They wouldn’t come, but, I wouldn’t drink until I found them either.

“I tried to think like you,” I said. Forcing myself. How difficult it was, knowing honesty was in a glass within my hand I couldn’t take. But there was a thing they wanted and a thing that needed to be said. A confession or rite of passage. A three legged beast and club I was on the verge to become a part of. But if I were drunk, well then, yes we would be friends but not really.

So I did it with the comfort of knowing what I was confessing was something hard to label in the aftermath that doesn’t come off as stupid. “A certain taste in the air, the way people on Bleeker moved when I was smoking. I got a scent, and I followed and…fuck. I don’t know! I tried to…I did, see thing, as you’d see them. Then I got feelings, hunches on which way to go.”

“And?”

“I went. Something told me you were here. Like a fucking voice or something, I don’t know. It wouldn’t tell me where to go but it would tell me where I shouldn’t. So I got here and, I don’t know.

By then I took a drink. “I just got the feeling that you would like this sort of place- out of the way, but still in the thick of it. Dark but light, quiet and loud.” I looked around unsure. “And it is nice, and you. This place is very you. But like I said, I got lucky.”

Sam and Anna laughed, together and alone, separately but cherused. They bought me a drink and kissed me with their smiles, as they had a tendency to.

Two Is A Crowd (Episode I)

It was five minutes before a bad day at work was almost over when I felt my pocket buzz, and before I even read it I knew it would have something to do with sex.  I should have gone home and ordered pizza the way I planned, but, I wanted to see them. Even if their text didn’t have a place or time to meet, just a train station and vague mention to what might happen phrased like a warning, Meant as an enticement. Succeeding in both.

Took a midnight train to forfeit soon as I logged into Instagram and saw how much fun other people were having. Punched my ticket at the deli in a $9 bottle of rum before the 1 train rolled in, and I roared in ready because Spotify had a playlist I hated ready for me.

Seventeen stops later, seventh Avenue opened up to me in swank high rises and suavely slacked strides clicking towards the distant turn-lights of neon bar signs. Overtly overdressed mademoiselles applauding down the avenue, distracting my attention with their contoured faces and purposely painted high cheekbones. New York is a terrible place to be unsure of where you’re going, with blackened windows at every bar and bouncers bishoping lines make everywhere seem like the place you should be.

They didn’t provide an exact address, so I thought actually finding Sam and Anna would be a mild goose chase; a red herring they text me to be annoying and their idea of funny. But as I exited Bleeker Street subway station to nobody, and my texts received no answer, I leaned against a lamp post. Annoyed and a little anxious to review the test she/he/they sent me, some clue I could Mapquest or decipher.

In a hidden seventh avenue lies a street
and Steppenwolf; some beast astray
that finds no home or joy in Greenwhich
or world that is strange
and incomprehensible to him.

Drunk texts after 1AM with “intellectuals” are annoying like this. Throwing a book reference with where we might have met is bush league, and I did leave my apartment thirty minutes after I said… yet. Something. Hard to label what in the aftermath that doesn’t come off as stupid. A certain taste in the air, the way the crowd of people on Bleeker moved and wavered between my cigarette smoke. I felt a scent, and like a psychic or lunatic I found myself heading in a  direction purely guided by instinct.

I would find them, I thought. Or I wouldn’t, and have a drink anyway. That’s what I thought as I wandered into The Slaughtered Lamb. A neat little dive bar quartered to a corner near sixth avenue where the streets get all whacky in Greenwich Village.

No bouncer at the door and a newly drawn sign “Welcoming Lost Souls To Oblivion…and $9 Cocktails. For Madmen Only.”

I made my way in.