When You Reach The Last Stop, Show The Grim Reaper You Have A Transfer Card (aka Subway Soliloquy)

STAND-CLEAR-OF-THE-CLOSING-DOORS-PLEASE.

Crowded, packed and stuffed with no AC.
Doors close, open, close, open, close, open, cl-
open. Somebody sucks teeth and the whole train sighs.
An afternoon turning evening ride home, ten stops away
from Wednesday rituals and the nonsense we do to get
over the hump of a work-week. Walking starts looking
like an option from all these delays. And if this
old ladies bag pushes me ONE MORE TIME I swear I’ll-

LADIES-AND-GENTLEMAN
PLEASE-GIVE-UP-YOUR-SEAT
FOR-THE-PREGNANT
AND
THE-ELDERLY
IT’S-STANDING-UP-FOR-WHATS-RIGHT
AND-COURTESY
IS-CONTAGIOUS.

Sweating, hot and suffocating in 9 to 5 company.
Undone ties and tired eyes fanning magazines,
smearing makeup, grunting offhand conversations,
complacent and wailing for home. Singing to the rhythm
of train tracks and middle class disappointment.
ka-kun ka-kun…ka-kun…ka-kun…ka-
A Game of Thrones Ringtone plays and somebody sneezes.

LADIES-AND-GENTLEMAN
FOR-YOUR-SAFETY-PLEASE
DO-NOT-BLOCK-OR-HOLD-THE-CAR-DOORS
WHILE-THE-TRAIN-IS
IN-THE-STATION.

Two men argue over who touched who first,
but it doesn’t matter and devolves to racial slurs.
Fingers, movements, violence vibrating in IF YOU COME
ONE STEP CLOSER
and voices getting louder
and louder and louder and louder and
more uncomfortable the longer neither of them backs down.
Then one says F**K THIS and starts reaching in his bag and

THIS-IS-A-SOUTHBOUND
SIX-TRAIN
THE-NEXT-STOP-IS
SAINT-LAWRENCE
AVENUE.

Crowded, packed and stuffed with no AC.
Doors close, open, close, open, close, open, cl-
open. Red floor, red doors, red rails, red everything.
Red advertisement on prescription acne treatment
on sale with Dr. Zimmerman, blood blushing his smile.
People running. Screams. Yelling. Shoving. I TOLD HIM
HE SHOULDN’T. I TOLD HIM. I TOLD HIM.
Sirens.

STAND-CLEAR-OF-THE-CLOSING-DOORS-PLEASE.

I’m Going Nowhere and I’m In A Rush (aka Felice, Episode II)

Feelings are cute but can be turned monstrous and should never be fed after midnight like Mogwais. It only leads to breaking nights and promises. But I waited for Felice in Mulligans at 1:00AM none the less, cradling a whiskey neat and giving names to the little gremlins that spawned from the one desire that got me there.

A north wind swept between getting out of work and having to go back again, and that familiar urge crept upon me. Sensitive instances when I’m compelled to spend those empty hours huddled in dark bars, glaring at the world through the rose colored lens of glass bottles with someone pretty standing beside me. Something simultaneously new but old, like a hand-me-down, or having a second child. Losing myself in another so I don’t have to deal with myself is an emotional shortcut, like skipping to the best part of your favorite song when you’re drunk; a cheap high without the buildup and only as good as the whiskey is.

And I needed to feel a little needed, even if it was from somebody I didn’t give a damn about. But I don’t tempt the devil unless I’m ready to dance, and that night, I made sure to put on my most comfortable shoes.

Those great passions burn terribly and I am a city of ash. I should be able to resist such an annoying calling, but eventually I let the poor thing in. I feel sorry for it, like a cat scratching at your door, even though I know he’s just going to stare at me and not bother coming in. Indulgence makes me undone, and the moonlight moves something terrible and primal in me. An impetus only nature can divine and nurture urges to snuff out, the way dogs wander into the woods to die. But before that gentle good night I’m raging in the machine- on the hunt, for what, I never know until it finds me. Because at midnight you’re either climbing to the top of the world, or on the verge of being crushed by it.

There is no in between.

I Only Give Up My Seat To The Elderly If There’s A Cute Girl Nearby (aka The Height of Injustice Is To Seem Just Without Being So)

Matthew meandered through the office full of a fools intention, playing at conversation and ‘none-the-wiser’ to his demeanor. The music teacher; relax, cool and making faces with a tongue in cheek, hovering with a cup of Starbucks green tea and handing out rehearsed dad jokes to anyone willing to listen. A soft and puffy beard behind two warm and sun-strained eyes, a smile wide and duplicated as the photocopies he came to make but wasn’t minding or paying attention to.

The copier tends to crash and there’s signs all around it – asking everybody to please be mindful of the environment and not leave papers jammed or unattended.

“I don’t live by the rules, the rules live by me!” He said, pretending to throw something on the floor before picking it up a minute after.

That Matthew, so carefree. So whimsical. He liked to purposefully be distracting no matter how focused you were on spreadsheets. The company clown quite proud to make the mood a little lighter, the type of guy that always has something sly to say, a compliment or awkward comment that was boring as hell but work appropriate. Loaded, in a sense, because if you didn’t nod or pretend to laugh at all his jolly empty sentences, well then, What-The-Heck’s-Your-Problem-Grinch, It-Isn’t-Even-Christmas.

(I swear to God, his words, not mine.)

“Anybody want to hear a joke about a piece of paper?” Matthew’s low baritone donged out loud, to no one in particular.
“Sure,” Jessica dinged, ignoring the loud ring of the office telephone.
“Never mind, it’s tearable.”

Everybody groaned and somebody sucked their teeth. Matthew was finger-pistoling the air and I was glaring out the window, looking for some rope and the highest tree. The copier made a screech, three beeps and a high pitched Danger Will Robinson kind of tone. There’s a jam, that sound is unmistakable. We’ve heard it a million times but somehow it goes unnoticed.

“Thank you, thank you, I’ll be here all week, be sure to tip your waitresses.” Matthew Bogart-ed across the office like a stage, blew his fingers and put them in his ripped jeans like holster. Cocky, but in a fun way.

Office glee is a cancer, I think, but the necessary kind. People need to feel comfortable at work, and while I can’t relate, I can understand that. The world would be a dark place if everyone had my “Let’s just get this done well so we can all go home,” mentality. But the act of half-assed trivialities, conversation solely for the sake of pretending to have a good time, has a Facebook/Instagram quality that I cannot abide by. An air of ‘Things-Couldn’t-Be-Better!’ when they really could be. The lies we try at exes that call back when Winter melts and they wander back home with tails between their legs. Not because they miss us, but because they miss what is familiar. They miss what is comfortable.

But sometimes there is no solace. Occasionally things just suck, and the glass doesn’t exist, let alone be half full. Bottom line – I don’t trust a somebody who doesn’t have a dark side. That endless happiness is either arrogant, naively misplaced, or a colossal facade worn socially well. Typically the third. They’re after something- a bias I admit is bordering on paranoia, but I can’t resist or shake. And if anybody asks me how my day was, I will always answer- Why?

“Jessica gets it. What’s up with your cereal today Grinchmas?”
“Nothing,” I replied. “Weird dream last night, has me a little out of it.”
“Oh,” Matthew replied, shoulders on the verge of moon-walking back outside from where I would ground him.

“Dreamt I was here at work,” I pressed, before he had the chance to leave. “Trying to find a piece of loose leaf paper, but each one I took from notebooks or the copier had stuff written on it. It always looked important so I’d leave it and look elsewhere. And I remember, there was a hippo in the lunch room which was really weird now that I think about it, but at the time felt pretty normal. And when I almost had a baby about it, thought about asking why is there wildlife on the premise, you said to me, Hey-Don’t-Worry-About-It-Grinchmas, and did that pistol thing you always do. Then my alarm went off and I woke up feeling pretty exhausted, because I woke up from work…to go to work? So it feels like I’ve been here for like two days straight. Isn’t that weird?”

“Sure bud,” Matthew replied, casually cooling his Earl Grey. Unsure of what to say or how to work in a work appropriate response.

And That’s the thing about the dad jokes; they don’t mean much except filling silence for the sake of it. It’s pretending at friendly without ever having to actually be it. Practiced and monotonous antics, the kind the worst of guys can learn the rhythm and vocabulary to. Life is full of landmines, and some people learn to practice office friendly as a type of Minesweeper with cheat codes.

To hop and skip across coming across like an asshole, but being one.

“You ever have weird dreams like that?” I asked.
“I think so, but gotta go, class is starting.” He said, darting.

Jessica settled into her Facebook, everyone else starts banging onto their keyboards. Trying to drown out the loud and endless rounds of beeping from the copier. Words glaring from a Lanier, music stanzas dripping from the feed.

JAM – SERVICE NECESSRY.

 

What A Time To Pretend To Be Alive (Mess Hall 04.03.18)

Seltzer and a glass of pinot noir
Not particularly my type of crowd, the bar
counters too clean and everyone looks ready
for a job interview. Radio playing out
whatever’s clawed its way to the top 100.
Black and white framed photos lining up the freshly
polished walls, a decor that demands to be Instagrammed.
Minimalist, in design, and character.

I can tell nobody has ever had a heartache here,
there are no cuts on the wood or graffiti in
the bathroom. Debased to a beat and parroting lyrics
that won’t mean a thing to me in the morning.
A polished purgatory, full of things
but empty, sterile, a place of transitioning before
going where you’re supposed to. Like a doctors waiting
room, or an ex girlfriends house.

Hardly the place to start a Wednesday bender,
but it was worth a shot.

It’s the four o’ clock crowd loud in happy hour
just kicking off, pleasant as post 9 to 5 allows
you to be. Caustic kindness. Can-You-Believe’s echoing
down seventh avenue,Karen’s talking candid about what
that asshole Jonathan did. The conversation feels
malconstructed and fragile in the air. Soft, stained,
and glassed- forced. Saying something while not saying
anything at all like Good Morning or an I-Miss-You text.

Bald guys in bold suits guffawing at something
that wasn’t funny, ironic hoop earrings and a terrible
clinking of boots. Old men shuffling. Yuppies struggling
to be interesting. Twelve dollar margaritas, fifty buck
belts from Barney’s, no ash trays outside because nobody smokes
(they vape.)

I am a man out of time in the midtown atmosphere.