i pick you up from the armpits
shining in the December of yr adolescence
this morning a 19 yr old boy asked me how to spell achievement
this afternoon i saw exhaustion in a single mother's fingers
I saw peace in the bald, pink cancer patient seeking holistic remedies at Whole Foods
the weary barista delights in his tip jar
this is the tip
of the glacier
that is hope
a shipwrecked shore to call home
you are not from here
do not anchor
yr worries to reality
we all beat the ocean
in our sleep
Jerry and Elaine are sitting in Monk’s diner on the Upper West Side.
The place still has that old Manhattan feeling: a film of grease on the
booths, pink packets of Spelnda at every table, and the waitresses, in
their frumpy yellow uniforms, have no manners and less patience.
Jerry is lifting a white mug to his mouth, slurping milk-diluted coffee
between his lips, “Y’know Elaine, it’s fine to say you believe in nothing,
but even nothing is something.” Elaine is only half-listening, all
morning she’s been worried about the rumored round of layoffs
eminent at Pendant Publishing, where she’s been reading
manuscripts for the last seven years, and she doesn’t have much
interest in another one of Jerry’s philosophical observations. “But
Jerry,” she says, in a slightly annoyed tone of voice, “if nothingness
awaits us; if when we die we simply cease to exist, then that is true
nothingness. The absence of an afterlife really does imply that there’s
nothing." Jerry raises his eyebrows, lulls another sip of coffee around
his mouth, and mulls this over. For a few mornings in a row he’s been
waking with a new sense of smallness that he’s never felt before; even
in a city as cold as New York, Jerry had never thought much about his
infinitesimal place in the chaotic clockwork of the universe until
recently. “Okay, so maybe you’re right, when we’re dead we’re
nothing. But if you asked me what I did today I would tell you I did
nothing, but what I really did was wake up, and read the paper, and
come here to meet you for coffee – that’s all something. Therefore,
even if we’re not aware that we’re dead, even if there’s no afterlife,
being dead is still a state of being.” Elaine sighs, her mind is off on
another island – if she does get laid off will she have to downsize her
apartment? Or worse, find a roommate? She takes a deep breath,
wondering if there’s a way she can facilely change the subject when,
much to her relief, George walks into the diner. He’s wearing a red
winter parka, which strikes both Elaine and Jerry as odd given that it’s
sixty degrees and sunny outside. He slides into the booth next to
Elaine, runs his hand across his bald head, and in a tone of existential
bereavement moans, “It’s not working for me Jerry, it’s just not
working.” “What is it that isn’t working?” “It all became very clear to
me that today the every decision I’ve made in my life has been wrong.
My life is the complete opposite of everything I want it to be. Every
instinct I have, whether it be something to wear, something to eat,
has been wrong…” Jerry and Elaine look at their friend, unsure of what
to say. At that moment one of the waitress approaches the table, gives
George a knowing look, and in her two pack a day voice says, “Tuna on
toast, coleslaw, cup of coffee?” George looks up at her, he’s about to
say yes when suddenly an alien impulse stops him. He crinkles his
forehead and says, “No. I always have tuna on toast. Nothing has ever
worked out for me with tuna on toast…” The waitress, looking slightly
bemused by George's neurotic tone, pulls the pencil from behind her
ear and the order pad from her apron pocket. “I want the complete
opposite of tuna on toast. Chicken salad… on rye… untoasted… with a
side of potato salad… and a cup of tea!” The waitress scribbles this
down, gives a quick nod, and hurries back towards the kitchen.
Elaine, shaking her head and laughing, says “Well, there’s no telling
what will come of this.” Jerry is half-smiling, his elbow propped up on
the table, his hand holding his chin. “Let me ask you something
George, do you think nothing is something?” George stares back at
Jerry silently, not sure how to respond. Elaine grabs a hold of George’s
arm, squeezing it with a measure of alarm and says, “George,”
pointing toward the bar, “that woman keeps looking at you.” George
looks in the direction of her point at the tall, thin, blonde woman in a
powder blue dress, her long alabaster legs extending down to a pair
of black spike-heeled shoes. “So?” George says, and Elaine, in a tone
of gentle encouragement responds, “So go talk to her.” George rolls his
eyes – his friend should know by now that his uneasiness in crowds
and lack of self-confidence renders such a suggestion as erroneous.
“Well here’s your chance to try the opposite,” Jerry interjects, “instead
of tuna salad and being intimidated by women; chicken salad and
walking right up to them. If every instinct you have is wrong then the
opposite would have to be right.” George leans back, smirks, “You’re
right,” he tugs on the lapels of his parka adjusting it to his shoulders,
“normally I would sit here and do nothing and regret it for the rest of
the day, so now I will do the opposite and I will do something!” With
that he jumps to his feet, and with an unshakeable pit of trepidation
being to cross the dirty dinner floor toward the leggy blond. The walk
was only several feet, but somehow that expanse felt much greater,
recalling the nervousness with which he would cross a middle school
gymnasium floor to ask one of the girls to dance. “Excuse me,” he said
to the blonde, feeling like he had an anvil crushing down on his chest,
“I couldn’t help but notice that you were looking in my general
direction,” She smiles, pushes a stray strand of hair behind her ear
and through her red lipstick lips says, “Yes. You just ordered the same
exact lunch as me.”
We find ourselves leading us down a most interesting way...
Stop to sit, and realize...this 'way' is not definite.
...We can choose to follow a footstep...
Or imprint the ground with our own.
Relentlessly, tirelessly but...patiently.
Wading through snow, embracing rains...
Clearly seeing the terrain that lay ahead
...And making a decision. Or rather, a reflection.
That we are not headed toward a direction at all.
But creating the ways in which we live.
All of these 'ways' are simply interpretations of ourselves.
And this world we live in, a reflection of our attitude.
For years I have known only you.
You, unfaithful lover, mutilated monster, blood-sucking fiend.
You, walking cadaver, trash-filled ocean, rotting mouthful of cotton candy cavity.
I felt you first when their faces filled my mind with nuclear lies. We walked the halls, hand-in-hand, eyes fixed on the laces of our shoes, desperately searching the cracks in the floor for our hollow reflections. Together we were like widowed spiders, catching unsuspecting bugs in our twisted, silkened webs, and draining their insides for our own selfish use. We were run-down strippers and streetside hookers, needles shared between haggard addicts shooting up MAGICDUST in blackened midnight alleyways. I twisted my fingers with yours, knelt before thick lines spread upon deceitful mirrors, lies threaded between rolled bills. I spoke your name before tornados and blizzards, blindly hummed your song in the presence of serial killers and wild felines with frothing, razored teeth.
For far too long I felt your wrath.
You, loaded shotgun, CLICKCLICKBOOM.
You, pointed blade, silvered hair, bloodied sheet smeared with scream.
I danced with you on wires of barb, 12341234, licked clean the wounds you salted with poisoned defeat. I shot your arrow from a rusted bow and laughed, cried, prayed for the kill. On weathered crags where nothing grows we testified our right to life, dug the graves of sinners and murderers, liars and thieves, then threw ourselves inside. Six feet deep. Like zombies we emerged, hungry for throbbing hearts and wrinkled lobes of brain. Like hunters we searched, scouring mine fields and sunken ships for our hidden souls.
Many nights I succumbed to your power.
You, thick leather belt lashed upon my back.
You, vicious, vindictive virus pulsing thick through my veins.
I've tried to lead you astray from your destruction. I threw you from marbled balconies and left you behind in dense, overgrown forests where I knew not my way. I fed you to flesh-hungry pirhanas and strangled you in my clenched, white-knuckled fists, trampled your face with spiked heels and had you sleep upon hot coals. Yet still you found your way to me, followed the trail of trembling hands back to my door and hid in the corners of rooms and the pages of books, waiting for your next attack.
From you I have learned.
You, wolf in wolf's clothing, howling at my moon.
You, filthy fox of the slyest breed.
jostled by shoppers,
teatime bargain hunters;
curses of common folk
ringing in my ears,
out of tune with
the cries of the traders.
Two for one here!
I say, two for one here!
Embattled in the
throng of a slow
moving crowd, shoulders
heaving, swaying to an
inaudible beat. Tired
faces marking time,
quelling inner frustration.
Get a move on!
Please, just get a move on.
Now it’s raining,
prickle my face.
Suspended water droplets
dangle from striped
trapped, busy, images.
Caught in a moment.
Spattered, in a moment.
Then I see her,
the fruit-stall girl,
her words and gestures
touch me like music
rippling over my skin.
Secret caressing fingers,
bringing me to life.
She doesn’t see me.
No: she doesn’t ever see me.
I’m almost mesmerised,
by the light catching
the white curve of
her neck. Her hair,
like spun gold, dancing
on her ruffled collar as
she serves with a smile.
Your change sir.
Don’t forget your change sir!
I turned for home,
head bowed, shoulders
stooped; no crowded bus
for me with standing
room only. A slow
solitary walk, past
dark, dripping gardens.
Her face for company, how
strange: her face, for company.
the sadness of hospitals and an old address
seeing you go - one less sun on suburban shoulders
your mouth, the sky, the bluest one made white
rubbing ice cubes on your cheekbones
you came there sometimes, with wax wings
forcing trees to even quiet their breathing
with fingers making cotton candy of clouds
i kissed the nose of the sky
and all the while: sadness
Just a few more days remaining ... ... ...
Rain rain won't go away
Until the whole world is erased
(We all know this)
He looked across the wide abyss
Only NOTHING was there
(where are we going?)
Little child of the Underworld
YE won't have to go to high school no more!
Little girl with torn underwear!
YE finally will have your say
I WITH THE DEEP SWORD IN MY HAND
I WITH THE FIERCE LOVE IN MY EYE
In a story
In a song
//... // ... //
Once was seed
Before GREED itself was MAN
Just a few more days remaining ... ... ...
(we all know this)
I will love you
All the while