Saturday, July 29, 2017


You might be in a box
That opens with electric locks.
Eventually, indifference
Becomes your pulse:
You forget
to care.
Or even
That you should.

There’s no right.
It’s all wrong;
You absorb the bad
Cause there’s nothing good.

Once a day you take
A lone trudge into a tiny yard
Where you look for faces
That don’t exist.

The punishment isn’t the time.
It’s the isolation.
And all you once knew
Or maybe need to recall
Slowly fades
Into a nothing
That has no end.

How did I get here?
When can I leave?

The dance floor is packed
With sweat and pending lust.
It’s a rocker that gets it,
And as the drums punctuate
The heat, you stand to the side
Of the gym floor, still in
your street shoes, out of tune
with a sock hop and its rules.

You asked one girl to go, but
she’d already said to yes to
that guy who cracked your rib
in gym class for being a smart ass.
You feel pretty dumb anyway.

One of the couples leaves the floor.
He’s got a hand in her blouse,
And her face is hot. They’re headed
To his sports car and, most likely,
Heaven on earth for a few moments.
You watch them hurry, imagining
It might be you, but you know
That won’t happen.
You don’t have a car.

Why am I here?
When can I leave?

Third Avenue on a Friday
Just a bit past noon.
Heavy rain sweeps in,
And as the crowd hurries;
You see a woman without an umbrella,
Getting drenched, looking lost.
She’s extraordinarily beautiful,
Even for Manhattan, but as you approach
She smiles. Then she speaks.
She’s Canadian and doesn’t know better.

“I’m trying to find my husband. He’s
at Larb Ubol in Hell’s Kitchen.
Do you know where that is?”

Nodding yes — your tiny apartment on 49th st.
is two blocks from that Thai place,
where an order of garlic noodles
burned your mouth just the other day
when you ate one of the red peppers
by mistake. Mammoth mistake, actually.

The rain comes harder, and by then,
the woman’s dress is so wet that
it shares the details of her body
in a way that is totally unfair.

You hold the umbrella mostly
Over her and begin the cross
From the east side to the west.
Twenty minutes later, you watch
Her go into the restaurant, where
She hugs her husband. They were married
Two days ago in Niagara Falls.
And they came to New York
For a week of bliss.

She told you her story,
A stranger, in Manhattan,
In a heavy storm as if
You were in a small village,
Safe from the modern world.
She looked you in the eyes,
And that rarely happens in the city
Unless somebody wants to rob you.
Or fuck you.

You linger another moment,
Watching her slide into the booth
And her husband glancing out the window,
And not seeing you at all. You never existed.
A cab hits a puddle and drenches you,
It’s June, so it could have been worse.

But as you turn up Ninth Avenue,
A different coldness finds you.
You might be in a cell,
Or by yourself at a high school dance
Or on that day, just another wet,
Silent New Yorker,
Caught somewhere between
What you dream and what you dread.

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