Coming to terms with the temporary
is an exercise in futility. The glass can be
full or empty, but I’m smiling either way.
Composure is so often mistaken with ease,
and some might be fool enough to think
my grin is anything
Coming to terms with the temporary
subway door dings, headphones sing muffled songs,
a cough a sniff and shuffle of feet. shuffle
of coats, fumbling hands, a newspaper is turned and
a girl laughs at something that isn’t funny.
14th street escalator rising, humming stairs rising
again and again and again and an
endless loop. car tires sliding,
honking, footsteps everywhere, honking rising.
two men argue over stepped shoes and a boy
cries at something that isn’t sad.
ears cannot be shut and listening is a prison,
the most molesting of the senses
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.
I could have killed a man today. Fantasized my fingers around his neck
for the better part of two hours as he sat beside me, snoring.
Beating his head against the sink until I felt blood againast
my thumbs and the neck stomped resisting the repeated movement.
Lying limp in my hands as wet noodles that I wash and rinse and drown
in the toilet before calling the police.
Here should be a reason that the kill is justified
but I can’t remember what it was.
All that comes to mind is a blind
hot white rage, and a reminder that the reason
I could have killed a man today, and it would have been so easy.
A quiet corner office bathroom, somewhere God might grant me
enough time to bash his face in and not be caught in the act.
That I might suffer the joy of seeing light exiting his pupil,
that his grin might fade and I can spit on his smirk.
And when we were there and he said Hey-
How my blood lust peaked, and felt the promise
and excitement to end him coming.
We exit the cab and he says “This way,” and I see his eyes.
Wide, proud, bold, knowing it well. All the things I hated,
but most of all – helpless. Glossy as gray and cloudy skies
that refused to rain. “Why are you like this?” I asked, instead.
And he broke down crying.
Music has never held me. Instead of instigating a feeling, I think it becomes a substitute for one. An emotional crutch we latch on to, and use to limp through new experiences with phantom limbs that aren’t missing. Injuries and cuts opened on a stereo or dance floor, lyrics hummed along because they are remembered, and what masochist doesn’t like a little salt in their wounds?
“Ohhhhhhh my God! Remember Justin!? This was Justin’s song,” She said, fumbling a Malibu between her fingers and awkward dance moves.
A lull goes over the eyes and her head hangs while the rest of her body doesn’t, a one way trip down misery lane to whoever this Justin is or was.
And I can’t relate. There can be a song playing in the bar or my car radio, but it doesn’t ever remind me of someone specifically. Instead, I’m flung back to that narrow stretch from when I first heard it, fully equipped with all the baggage of that era. Mr. Jones and me danced silence down to the morning, counting pigeons from my window sill and wondering what strange and amazing people my young heart had yet to meet. Swiped left on the wrong people and my twenties stumbled me into a Boulevard of Broken Dreams. Haunting delis and libraries for any beer or book that might be a means of escape. So brash and full of myself, but empty, like a silhouette. Trying to find who I was, not realizing I’d always been him.
“I hope he’s alright,” She said. “I haven’t seen in him since February.”
Then I met May in June, and my Springsteen started in July. Nothing but a Hungry Heart living out his Glory Days, champagne out of wine glasses and half-assed attempts at the adult version of being romantic on a college budget. Ten dollar bottles of wine and Save Tonight on repeat. Lost my virginity to Buddy Holly in Sara’s basement that one Summer, the same one You Give Love A Bad Name became an anthem and self explanatory. Learned about lust and the sweet pangs of loving someone from a distance, so the rest of that year I took a incredible joy in destroying myself with drugs and sex over and over again.
“You know he sang this to me at Crissy’s birthday party, right?”
So music doesn’t do it for me. It’s terrible, a conceited self reflection we’ve all decided to be alright with. Regrets made public with a chorus you can scream in a room full of strangers without appearing all too crazy. Much better than the alternative, having to face and put to words the way someone once made you feel. Skip the song, put away the salt and show your wounds and bruises. Explain just how you got them, even if they aren’t finished healing.
“Do you miss him?” I asked, opening the subject.
“Fuck that asshole,” She said flatly.
And kept dancing along to the music.