Tag: words

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.

My Baby Takes The Morning Train, When Uber Pool Is Too Expensive (aka I’d Quit Tomorrow If Sheena Asked Me To Stay)

It was early morning, around six thirty AM I think. That un-Godly hour when men in construction work boots march soul-less towards the MTA, and a handful of office workers with long commutes start their day before the sun will. When transit is slow and sluggish, quiet besides the scuffle of winter coats and urban foliage stirring awake. Early birds and no worms.

I slouched off of the 39 Bus hungover as the moon on the horizon, dragging my feet towards Nine To Five with my body in tow. Hungry, because I’d ate too late last night. Angry at another schedule I couldn’t skip, because rent’s a bitch and cheesesteaks don’t grow on trees. Calling out was out of the question, and I didn’t have any sick days left anyway. Between the bus fares, nephews, and bottles of rum lining my recycling bin, I needed the money. But not desperately. Enough to get me out of bed when I’d rather be somewhere else.

Not a unique feeling, I noticed, as I watched a couple stop on the corner. He was about my height, not much more handsome with a handful of grays around his cobble-colored hair. She was all legs, nick-knacks dangling from her wrists, ears, neck, jacket, boots, lips; everywhere. Hands just barely held, calm and comfortable as they lazily rushed towards their obligations as the rest of us. They hit the corner and slowed, spoke some four to five words or syllables I tried my hardest to listen in on (all I could make out was ‘Don’t—this weekend—‘) and kissed each other on the cheek goodbye.

She clicked on toward the subway, he stood and stared at her go for a while. I stood there watching while he was wrestling with something. An idea maybe, words or feelings he should have shown or let shed. Or maybe he was throwing in the towel on the rat race, would have rather run down the block and take her by the hand back down where they came from. Board up the windows and lock the door at home, let the rent and bills pile up, spend all day listening to quiet comfort of her soft breathing on his chest, and the nick-knacks dangling off the dressers and coffee tables.

Then a car honked, he looked at his cell, and marched towards the 9 bus to work instead. He needed the money too, I guess, or couldn’t manage to break the habit. I looked at the 9 bus, marched towards the liquor store I knew would be open in an hour, and called The Boss on my cell.

Because I couldn’t either.

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.

Zaedilux

You know there’s little to love. Just an open palm waiting to hold yours on those Tuesdays you might just tell your boss that speech you’ve been rehearsing for years. Chinese takeout sprawled on the coffee table, crowded boxes around cheap dollar bargain candles makes them tower like the buildings in midtown. Like your living room houses a whole world in a miniature city.

Her picture is there next to yours and the stark contrast is blatant. She is bright and always leaning, her still smile moving like the wane of a wax stick. Yours is reserved, meaning but trying not to. A little sadness dampened in the twilight of your eyes and crows feet.

“It’s too hot for movies about fish,” She whined at The Shape of Water.

Your apartment always had open windows because air conditioners are fucking expensive. And our generation may be complacent with all the opportunities available, never having to have had walk ten miles barefoot to get to school, but when the WiFi is down and the housing market crashes- we make do.

“Run a cold shower,” You said, always the pragmatist. Incapable to see any conversation as anything other than a back forth of searching for solutions. Ever the architect, building systems wherever there’s a hint of chaos or dissatiafaction.

She loves and hates that about you and does this thing when shes had enough- throws her arms in the air and lets the wind take her. Stage falls stage left to the sweaty elbow sofa, groans as of she’s been shot or generally tired of your shit.

“We could get an AC?” You said, softly kissing the hole in her basketball shorts that are actually yours. “Think of all the energy we’d waste and hard working children in China we’d be supporting.”

“Goddamn commies,” She chides, tracing a shape on the wooden floor her top half dangles from the sofa.

She is afraid of conflict but likes hunger games, to play the satire of being awful knowing you obviously mean otherwise. The third and final girl you’ll ever love, which is a good thing. The feeling wasn’t as stupidly hot blooded as the first, careless as the second, or hopelessly astray as the little ones whose name you pretend not to remember in between. That was the year you peaked, emotionally; your very own golden age and platinum summer.

She took you to the beaches in Guatemala and you learned how much you enjoy lazing away in the sun with a good book local hand-rolled cigarettes. You dragged her to Amsterdam, the south street seaport docks and all your other dark and lonely haunts. It was a confession of sorts, somebody else had to see all the terrible places you’d been, even if you only told her some of the stories behind the monuments of your misdeeds. She commented how they all had one commonality, one motif. They were somber places that made her reflective, made her think. And you felt better about your past because of her, because maybe that’s the why behind all those bar fights and 4 am wanderings. Instead of mischief and a terrible sense of not belonging anywhere.

“I want a picture of you,” she said. So you flipped the camera on your smartphone, crossed your eyes as best you could and hit send. She laughed.

“No, a real one. Something to write your name, the date, and how you make me feel on the back of it.”

Slowly slipping into the smooth routine of duality- two worlds, one small Manhattan apartment, a twin xl mattress and the kind of sex you will eventually only remember fondly and never masturbate to. You couldn’t, there were too many feelings mixed in those concoctions to derive solely pleasure from. Her picture no longer on the coffee table, but high on its pedestal above the refrigerator. The death of her father looming in the tresses of that bold and endless Summer. When you couldn’t bare the weight of her sadness while on the verge of reconciling yours. And so you retreated, as you always do. Not to the beaches but those dark, familiar, and terrible haunts. Because the ruin you know is safer than the one you don’t.

“What do I get out of it?” You asked.

“My satisfaction,” She replied.

And you were more the type to find another job than quit dramatically anyway.

“Sounds like communism.”