Monthly Archives: December 2010

american spirits are fifty cents a piece now. still, you bummed me a newport and a sucker punch. – m4w – 26 (williamsburg, borough of lost boys)

 *

-a number and his number seven-

*by someone fighting himself

for the freedom to find her*

(frankie leone, just a man)

*

*our cigarettes burn but hope’s been in the butt can awhile. fear and distrust smolder even through torrential rain. no matter what burns and what doesn’t this place is dark on sunny days. 

we don’t smoke here because it’s an option. we smoke because there isn’t another. we all have full packs of the same cheap brand of resignation.

the little clarity i’ll gain later will reveal i smoked it long before getting here. memories of this harsh brand will keep me coughing through too many brooklyn nights.

*

my green eyes take in too-familiar concrete, asphalt, and dirt. breathing deeply i inhale razor wire and chain-link through the marlboro in my long fingers.

i exhale the scent of a petrifying heart.

i stare at him with squelched curiosity and ingrained intensity. my cigarette’s taken in more dramatically, desperately. ineffective forgetfulness curls slowly from my nostrils.

i ask grayness loitering in still air, “why does that dude always hang by himself?”

“slow your roll playboy. i know you ain’t trying to parle with father time. you straight wildin’,” a fellow number with a face answers.

wiping droplets of sweat off my cheek i heel out my cigarette in the dirt and get up. i start walking to approach a man i’ll see later as a brother.

this man walks alone but is spared by jackals. he isn’t spared because of his clear ability to fight. he isn’t spared because he’s kin.

he’s spared because he’s locked in a scrap. he’s thrown down on himself believing he’s kin to none.

any jackal who’s seen enough knows a few important things. one of them is that if you don’t want to risk joining the loser don’t approach a man handling beef.*

*

*as i ease onto the ground next to him, against an unremarkable concrete wall, he chooses not to make eye contact.

i speak, “my man, can i get one of your newports? on my mother i’ll pay you back when i get my commissary.”

not changing his expression he stares straight into something, somewhere, or someone i can’t see. i’ve seen enough to know it’s there. i almost want to see it too.

he speaks in a calm tone, “didn’t the other young bucks school you to ease up off me baby boy? didn’t they drop on ya that i’ll make you smile with your neck like i was brushing my damn teeth?”

i should be afraid. this day i’m not.

i answer, “nah. they said you’re a prince. a regular mother hen around here.”

a smile disrupts his features. his teeth are rotted in a way i’ve never seen; mostly there but eroded to less than a quarter their original girth. rotten sawed-off toothpicks fill his mouth.

“you’s some kind of joker ain’t you little homie? even you gots to know it ain’t never christmas round here. i’m gone bless you. never again though. you heard?”

he even lights it for me.

while he strikes the match i see numbers one through seven tattooed on seven dark knuckles. all of them were done with a machine except one. number seven’s homemade. done here. on the back of his hand is a name in stylized cursive.

a woman’s name.

“what’re the numbers for?”

“you writing some kinda book?”

there’s silence. a long silence, before he speaks again.

“to let the devil know how many times to whoop my ass after the reaper hollers last call.”

he doesn’t need to explain. i understand. those numbers are men.

men not with us anymore.

“why’s seven a stick and poke?”

he surprises me by answering, and answering more quickly, “you seen’t any tattoo spots round here?”

“nope.”

i hesitate then continue, “but the captain said nobody’s dropped a body in the twenty years he’s run shit.”

“ain’t no guy. she was a woman. she was my woman. dead last year. i done kill’t her. shut the fuck up and puff your port. you getting on my last nerve white boy. i fucked with you too much already.”

i can’t say why i keep talking. it’s not because i don’t know better. i do. these moments help keep my fear forgotten.

“you’re doing twenty-five with no wake up. you’ve been here way more than a couple years.”

he looks at me.

no. he looks into me. he speaks into me. there’s no anger, hate, love, or hope in the tone of his voice.

“i’m gone spit some shit. best listen. i ain’t said this much in a good minute. you pop off shit after you in the morgue. feel me?

“i snatched my boo’s life.”

he points to the number seven and proceeds.

“she was finer than foxy brown until she weren’t no more. whole time ’til then she waited on my black ass.

“there’s plenty ways a nigga can murc a bitch. the way i deaded this one’s colder than a blade, burner, or louisville. i been contemplating how i done it. i ain’t mack diesel. i ain’t the first to kill a bitch behind a wall.

“mad niggas kill bitches on the street the same way. they even be sexing they shorty on the regular.

“ain’t no thing to the bitch though. she still waiting for the nigga in her to come home.

“just like she done.”

he points to the number seven and pauses again.

“we done white boy. dip and stay gone. keep them eyes off my face too.”

he stops for a few seconds before resuming. his voice never raises.

“don’t trip about the smoke. you gone get me back now.”

he kisses the number seven and presses it against my temple to collect.

a loosie can cost a half-hour of consciousness.*

 * 

(out of my norm- significant details modified.)

*


i joked, “if dating was poker the loan sharks sitting around in bamontes [at 32 withers st near lorimer st] would have my thumbs” – m4w – 26 (williamsburg, borough of lost boys)

*

-blind date-

*by someone that’s stopped

trying to run from the check*

(frankie leone, just a man)

*

*the sun’s fresh to the sky

-

and she sits next to the window 

in a soundless restaurant

-

on the north east corner of n6th and bedford

-

wearing an undisguised face

-

sipping black coffee timidly

i sit across from her in the seat without a view

without resentment

-

momma says ‘that’s where a man belongs on a date’

-

wearing uncomfortable eyes i greet her

-

“you’re a breath-taking woman

i feel undeserving of your company

-

so i’ll do what i do when i’m terrified

construct a maze of thick smoke and distorting mirrors

-

reflecting images you and i cringe and cough looking at

-

while i confuse you with

trivial lies and inappropriate truths

-

time will pass and i’ll forget the way out”

-

she smiles authentically and responds

like she’s recognized the sun outside

-

“stop you’re making me blush

i love this place too

best coffee on the north side”

-

i nod in agreement speaking into

light eyes and unmarred skin

-

“i’ll try to mold your perception of me

knowing that’s how you’ll sculpt a grotesque one

-

aware many love a thoughtless presentation of me

-

but i’ll meticulously stress

the superficially impressive anyways

-

hiding depth and the sublime

-

the sources of my feelings

-

feelings of resting in the hospice bed

of being different from the rest of humanity

-

somewhere i’ve always lain

somewhere i’ll recline through our relationship”

-

opening her eyes wide and sighing

with friendly intrigue she sips

-

in a joking self-deprecating tone answers

-

“i’d kill for a life as exciting as yours

-

i graduated two years ago

and am still trying to get comfortable

-

with the idea of being a young urban professional

-

and putting my love of glitz glamour

and romanticized wandering to bed”

-

i stir my coffee and read the menu

seeing a humorless prophecy in familiar cursive

-

i scribbled in the last time

-

and nudge my voice towards her again

-

“i won’t trust you

enough to let either of us relax

-

people i care for have surprised me

-

so i’ll act jaded

asphyxiating

magic you deserve out of our moments

-

with what’s been called ‘dark profundity’

-

fear and speculation will drive choices

to bump calls and return texts late

-

especially after you get nervous

when i avoid giving details of my past

-

even though the truth is ugly

in a much more usual way

than you

and i

-

are afraid of

-

still, my deep-rooted shame

will be a leading contributor

to you walking out that door”

-

her smile seems less genuine

-

she fidgets awkwardly before asking

“is everything alright

you seem distracted and quiet

-

it’s ok though, i get blue

when the seasons shift too

-

let’s try this again some other time

but my next couple weeks are super-busy”

-

she slips five bucks onto the table unnoticed

standing up to put on her coat and scarf

-

my eyes are blinded by rays

of a setting sun i can’t see

-

i finish a eulogy to a memory about to move on

-

“you’re going to grow weary

after giving this everything you have

-

everyone wants happiness

-

and it’ll be clear enough

i’m too lost in myself to help you find it

-

so you’ll do what i forgive you for instantly

before my name becomes a missed call

-

and your beauty becomes cursive on a page

written in my hand-writing.”*

*


you wouldn’t meet at northeast kingdom (on 18 wyckoff ave and troutman st) explaining, “brooklyn’s not my scene.” lost your number. – m4w – 26 (williamsburg, borough of lost boys)

 

 

-kings county orchestra-

*by someone planning to keep his seat

until it’s time to cross over*

(frankie leone, just a man)

 

*these streets

my streets of brooklyn

 

don’t tune their instruments

wait for a maestro

or perform the same tune twice

 

they play this symphony effortlessly

 

strings start the morning with a sunrise

bringing to life first

the chords of east new york

 

bowing forward to bushwick’s strings

and lastly north williamsburg’s

 

awakening dirty windows of a loft

of an old warehouse building

filling the tiny bedroom of a lost boy

 

a lost boy whose tried to

find himself in the most irrational places

 

finally finding what he’s chased

to catastrophic ends

hearing himself in cursive

 

as rays vibrate his pen

 

he feels relief as a duo joins him

 

the single mother in sheepshead bay

doing what she can to make ends meet

melodically sighing a deep sadness

 

thinking of her child’s father

gripping a bottle of malt liquor

near the bowery mission

 

aided by the park slope bar owner

a tired expression his pick

 

playing knowing his bar’s strings will

be cut soon by a lawyer in a cubicle

stamping forms without emotion

 

all three remind the audience

wearing bow-ties and evening gowns

 

what’s important

or maybe what isn’t

 

until the section’s soloist begins

 

the puerto-rican boy

instilling hope with sounds of his foot-steps

walking to school through sunset park

 

thinking of how amazing the girl sitting

in front of him looked in those jeans yesterday

 

the solo ends

as his teacher begins attendance

and he tries not to stare too hard

 

the percussion comes in right on time

 

opening with the construction worker

passionately playing his jackhammer

in a gentrifying neighborhood

 

smashing in progress and higher rents

 

abruptly balanced by the hustler that does

what he has to on the block in brownsville

 

sickly and sadly justified

because even new jacks know

only one person can eat off a corner

 

hollow tipped notes

from the barrel of his drum

aren’t making threats

 

just delivering the only promises

brooklyn makes those that play the game

 

all-the-while the steady beat of trucks

 

stopping and going on flatbush avenue

in and out of bushwick warehouses

up and down the brooklyn queens expressway

 

hold the section together

 

the winds itch to be heard, coming to life

with the russian woman in brighton beach

 

breathing instrumental words to

her daughter in a realistic tempo

 

“america’s beautiful and can bring your dreams

be like these americans, but never hold their belief

the world will conspire to take care of you”

 

her sound’s accentuated

by the hasidic man’s steps

 

hitting notes of confident purpose

through south williamsburg

 

keying deliberately away from hateful outsiders

they are only men, their judgements meaningless

 

a final pair of musicians bring the crescendo

 

the teenager in bedstuy getting a cut

laughing rich notes in tune with his barber

 

who plays a joking melody

about being angry with o.j.

that fool’s kept out of the news too long

 

all three sections

strings

percussion

winds

synchronized perfectly

 

the audience feeling

life

struggle

beauty

hardness

love

resentment

and hope

 

but all good things end

 

the italian head usher from

the small remaining italian community

in bensonhurst

 

smiles in approval from the aisle

 

wearing a perfectly tailored suit

holding a rocks glass of chivas regal

 

and fading the sun

with a casual turn of the knob

quieting the music until tomorrow

 

as a lost boy prepares the cap for his instrument

 

you’ve just heard this symphony

you’ve just heard these streets

my streets of brooklyn

 

you’ve just heard

a lost boy’s humble contribution

to the kings county orchestra.*

 

 


you were molten candle wax on the q train – 26 (williamsburg, borough of lost boys)

*

-coney island bound q-

*by someone strung out on an idea*

(frankie leone, just a man)

*

*the sandstorm tears

through the hour glass

-

when he sugar-walks onto

the coney island bound q(ueen)

-

her car keeps the prisoner

half an hour most days

-

dripping molten candle-wax on him

the entire trip without fail*

-

*

-

*the journey to home-made purgatory

is simple enough

-

feet forced onto the floor

friendly bantering, music playing

-

prayers to a rising sun

visible through a dirty window

-

unwashed skinny jeans onto chicken legs

battered wing-tips onto tattooed feet

-

slinking onto the street

walking slowly, always slowly

-

dancing alone waiting for the l(ove)

the delfonics making unrealistic promises

-

finding the most beautiful person in the car

intermittently looking at them

-

through tortoise-shell wayfarers

-

the l(ove)

approaches 14th street

and he gets off *

-

*

-

*she’s coming, he embraces it

with every fiber of his humanity

-

the q(ueen) smiles brightly

through the darkness

slows and stops

-

a depressurizing sound

permeates the air

-

the doors open and with

loosely-gripped six-shooters

he steps in yet again

-

to the final scene of

butch cassidy and the sundance kid

-

there are other options

it’s unnecessary

-

but it’s beautiful being sick

sick on her

-

the thera-flu

the vaccine

the chicken soup from a dear friend

the fully-insured visit to the doctor

-

all on the streets and avenues

at tips of long skinny fingers

-

but the blue light of a memory

a memory of eyes unmeetable

scorch both retinas

-

he’s completely blind

as she softly speaks

-

and answers her

with thoughts

that warp the world

-

thoughts that

-

take the cork

off the ice-pick

-

take the made-in-china sheath

off the canal-street sword

-

open the top drawer and light

the old zippo needing silver polish

-

spill the shelved box from last halloween

revealing a broken plastic crown

-

and carefully weave them all into him

within the walls of ribs

that’ve taken a few blows

-

while he sits across from a stranger

who’s rightfully unconcerned

of course, oblivious

-

the tears on his scarred face

disguised by shades

that sometimes mask guilty stares

directed at beautiful strangers*

-

*

-

*the q(ueen) proceeds

her scepter unfaultering

towards coney island

-

he sits in her car, sick

marinating in a warm jacuzzi

filled with hopelessness

-

and his i-pod

goes dead.*

*

you stopped being a white girl at sugarland (on 221 n 9th st and driggs ave) – 26 (williamsburg, borough of lost boys)

*

-every three years-

*by someone that tries to record

most of his “…truth ~ (pause.) ~ and lies”*

(frankie leone, just a man)

*

*every three years she makes a mistake with a man. thirty-six pages have evaporated off the calendar.

she’s on the other side of an uncrowded bar on north 9th street. i watch her run her eyes across me.

looking around i realize most of the women here stopped making mistakes with men in high school.

the clock smirks with intact inhibitions. it shares the early hour.*

*

*my friend’s drinking. sticking to his m-o he’s over-shot the mark. his androgynous face is inches from my ear. the volume of his voice is past the border of comfort. a thin arm wraps around my shoulders.

i’ve never had rigid boundaries. disregarding this proximity isn’t difficult.

he speaks. i listen. “don’t let the boyishness throw you a curve ball. you can see she’s got a lot going on even if she isn’t plugging it into amps at the garden. don’t think i’m lying. definitely don’t think it’s a hopeless cause.

“a couple guys have felt those lips.”*

*

*“you’re not a midget. you and i could dance.”

she laughs warmly. my out-of-place bluntness makes her uncomfortable.

“yeah, i’ve always been awkwardly tall too. it makes dancing with most people comical. it’s no tragedy. i’m terminally a white girl on the dance-floor.”

we’re standing close to each other. my eyes half-smile into hers.

“the caucasian cop out gets over-abused. it’s a handicap overcome with a sex-driven beat. a touch of apathy breaks it down. add recklessness and it crumbles.

“someone else’s hand in your back pocket doesn’t hurt either.”

her smile continues. even though it sounds like i’m almost joking she seems interested.

“ok. help me stay alive in brooklyn. how do i know if my crumpets and tea are turning to guava juice and soul food?”

she plays along, and well. however, she hasn’t mastered rolling the dice with confidence. unlike mine her discomfort’s displayed honestly on her features.

my eyes don’t fade. i wink, blow on the dice, and roll again.

the music’s loud. not too loud. my body moves close to hers. i speak into her ear anyways.

“hypothetical situation: we’re dancing. hip-hop’s playing. this place is full of white people originally from the suburbs.

“everyone should gawk in disgusted judgment. if we feel disinterest we’re still sipping high-balls on the golf-course.

“want to take a ride on the j train away from manhattan?”

smiling and laughing she nods with eyes locked into mine. something with fun mistakes in the bass courses through the speakers. it helps me bite my lower lip.

impure thoughts project themselves through pores of my scarred and illustrated skin. it’s satisfying she doesn’t seem to want to leave my theater.

my wrists are sore from manual labor. my calloused hands find their way to her hips. i pull her against me completely.

she’s been honest. her movements brawl the beat.

eventually she submits. her hips allow my hands to guide her to its will.

our movement intensifies and her gaze escapes the windows to my soul. for once this doesn’t spark self-consciousness. i believe she wants back inside.

we move. it becomes clear to me, and i conjecture her too, where our subway ride on the dance floor is taking us. the room reeks of sweat and forgetfulness.

we grip our wallets in a neighborhood of our minds with no tourists.

i smile and lift her arms onto my shoulders and around my neck. she reacts with shy laughter. my hands grip her hips firmly. in moments it isn’t a laughing matter.

my fingers curl around the back of her neck drawing her ear close to my lips. i speak with deliberateness, “i heard you only mess around with men once every three years.”

her nervous laughter makes more brush strokes on the air between us. i continue, “how long’s it been?”

“three years.”

my palm’s on her neck off-center. my thumb’s resting lightly on her chin. the music plays with intent.

i move. she moves. our lips move onto each others.*

*

*eventually the song ends. that’s what they do. there are more words, “i’m not going to leave with you tonight.”

my half-smile does what it can, “i’m into exactly what we’ve had.”

“you seem like you do this a lot.”

“i don’t know what you mean.”

i know what she means. she explains what i already know. half-disputing i give my version of my truth.

she seems satisfied.

“this is uncomfortable. i’m used to seducing straight girls. i don’t like having no control. you have it all.”

“you’re right. you don’t. you’re wrong though. i don’t either. neither do they,” i gesture at the masses of dancing strangers, “some just think they do.”

it’s hours past midnight. the clock’s irritated. glaring at me, it ticks angrily at my work day starting at nine am. i put my tail between my legs.

i explain then move closer to whisper. it’s my experience things mean more said this way.

“i know this probably won’t happen again. i dug that we rose above the caucausian cop-out after midnight together. please, let’s try not to be awkward if we see each other again.”

in silence we stare at each other for a few moments. point-blank.

i finish, “good night.”

we move our lips onto each others. our lips separate.

that’s what they do.*

*

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*


outside the wyckoff starr (on 36 wyckoff ave between starr st and troutman st) you said i “walk with a swagger” – m4w – 26 (williamsburg, borough of lost boys)

*

sugar-walking-

*by someone striding towards the belief

“all those who wander aren’t lost”*

(frankie leone, just a man)

*

*a man walks slowly

 -

he’s young

by standards of most

 -

but doesn’t look so young

-

like the street-lights

the clock often fails to forgive him

 -

his body’s marked

by rhythmic stabbings

of body illustrators

 -

and numerous testaments

to mistakes that drew his blood

 -

large three dollar mirrored glasses

sold on flatbush avenue

are large enough to cover tears

 -

while walking confidently

down crowded streets

during moments of weakness

 -

but not his scars

 -

he smiles often

and has much to be grateful for*

*

*a gorgeous woman with delusions of grandeur

and a large birthmark on her neck

tells him he’s mastered the half-smile

-

before purring she’ll make him a star

 -

he flashes half his teeth at her

knowing an idle promise

when he hears one

-

and walks her to a luxury car*

 *

*he stands on street corners

a lanky sentinel

in close-fitting garments

-

watching futures and answers

within passing crowds

 -

the blonde with the legs

the latina with the tattoos

the brunette with the flowing brown hair

 -

all with passionate kisses

in the subway

-

blissful forgetfulness

-

and his nose-dive off

the williamsburg bridge

in their steps

 -

he breaks to remember*

*

*he remembers

 -

the old man with thick black hair

who used to call his father “chooch”

 -

always with lit lucky strike in hand

and wife-beater covering a fit torso

 -

famous for battered knuckles

and ability to bring things

not his into his possession*

*

*he remembers

 -

the stormy night

“chooch” was heart-broken

 -

he couldn’t make it

to say his final good-bye*

*

*he remembers

 -

a young girl with powder white skin

no one talked to

 -

he admired from a distance

as a boy

 -

the white rose a friend

gave her in his stead

 -

he was too terrified

-

how she waved

yelling thank you

 -

across his middle school’s parking lot*

*

*he remembers

 -

a lost boy

arms covered in tattoos

 -

a play-ground legend

for time living behind the eight-ball

 -

afternoons drinking five-seasons rum

during days without hope

 -

conclusions of nights

suns rising over the interstate

 -

him filling a seat of his beat-up cadillac

-

red-eyes filling his skull

emotionless metal swelling his waistband

 -

four horsemen wearing doc martens

pulling him past every exit*

 *

*he remembers

 -

someone

he couldn’t look in the eyes

 -

she smelled like hope

from across a crowded room

 -

walking in the sun

without fear

as only the truly beautiful do

 -

how she smiled at him

he twisted inside*

 *

*he remembers

 -

a man who’d seen more than him

 -

his gold tooth

skin like burnt coffee

and superior game of chess

 -

speaking well

despite pervasive slang

 -

he saw him cry once

 -

this man who’d done things

under the street-lights

a full moon closed its eye to*

 *

*he remembers

 -

the most beautiful woman

who’s ever glided this city’s concrete

 -

her green eyes

and wrinkled skin

 -

how she held his hand

as he slipped into an abyss

 -

he’d go into her bedroom and

wake her up to kiss her goodnight

-

she’d never complain*

*

*he remembers

 -

the stories she read him as a boy*

 *

*he remembers

 -

a young man

who was his brother

 -

with an aesthetic he envied

 -

their time blind-folded

wandering around a hell

steadily shrinking

 -

he wonders why his brother

is still blind and wandering

 -

and his own green eyes

framed by scarred skin

and a face not half as pretty

 -

can see the beauty

of his brooklyn neighborhood clearly

 -

as he lives a life he never thought

was there for him*

 *

*he remembers

 -

and forgets

 -

walking

his streets and avenues

slowly

hopefully

 -

the lost

the plastic

the wicked

the gold

the resigned

the accomplished

the hustling

the beautiful

 -

his backdrop

 -

accepting

the clock and street-lights

won’t accept his apologies

 -

smiling knowing

in the near-future

-

although they won’t speak of him

they won’t forget him.*

*

we left the blackbird parlour (on 197 bedford ave and n 6th st) to fuck at my place (on 151 kent ave between n 4th st and n 5th st) – m4w – 26 (williamsburg, borough of lost boys)

*

-one night stand-

*by someone who can swim

in an empty idea until he drowns*

(frankie leone, just a man)

 *

*“you brought me here to fuck me didn’t you,” she says with a cigarette a half-hour later in her voice.*

*

*i lie myself into believing i want to understand why she’s here. i look through the windows to her soul. they’re light blue, her eyes, and have a calm intensity. they say something terrifying. i lie myself into believing it’s a promise, lie, or both.

i desperately want to believe it’s hope i see. like a miniature sail-boat on the pond in central park during the summer. it could be the hope of a drunk who’s had enough floating down the east river on a winter morning. my truth keeps repeating i’m full of shit.

it’s passionately ignored.

she’s been drinking but isn’t slurring her words or stumbling. this helps me not loathe myself (more than usual) for her presence. without breaking eye contact she bites her lip. she sees it makes me nervous. the guilt i’m fighting’s harder to detect.

“you brought me here to fuck me didn’t you,” she says with a cigarette a half-hour later in her voice.

there’re a few moments of silence. i’ve had enough. softly, my voice jumps into the east river.

“i’m only a man.”

her expression changes with the speed of a hustler hearing sirens on rivington and allen. (back when they still stood on the corner. when they didn’t have to hand out business cards for tutoring services subtly referencing narcotics. when i wasn’t on them.)

she waits before replying, “yeah, you are.”

she looks away from my green eyes and turns her gaze to the coffee table near her knees. it might not be meant for my ears but she whispers, “i guess you aren’t my prince either.”

i decide no response is best. i look at her. she doesn’t look back. i can’t see her eyes well.

i make due. i like looking at her hair. it’s blonde. very blonde. bleach-blonde. almost white. i ran my fingers through it when we spoke in the dimly lit blackbird parlour a block from the bedford l stop.

the blackbird isn’t far from the loft building i live comfortably uncomfortable. we’re inside its thin walls these moments. our skinny bodies are seated across from each other on vintage furniture found on trash days.

on trash day lady-luck smiles at my mild-mannered, 35 year-old, kind, gay, and corporately cordial roommate.

i rise to my feet speaking quietly, “i’m going to get a piece of fruit. would you like one? there’s apples and bananas. the bananas are really brown though.”

she doesn’t speak. only shakes her head. my lanky body rises, walks, and picks up one of my roommate’s apples. it’s difficult to tell which are bruised in the dark kitchen. the street-light filtering through the windows near us doesn’t reach the bowl. i pick one at random.

i look at her. she continues staring at the coffee table. there isn’t anything interesting on its surface.

my spirits are ground out on the sidewalk. i sit down and shift the apple from one hand to the other without biting. getting it was unnecessary. i’m not hungry. i feel childish. a few moments pass.

she speaks. the guiltless passion’s left her voice. “that tattoo in the crook of your left arm has scabs on it.”

“yeah. it’s new. i got it last week.”

“why?”

“it would’ve happened a month ago. the guy that put it there cancelled twice. same day. guess life happened to him twice without caring about ink getting into me.”

the muscles around her mouth seem to tense and relax. i think she almost smiled.

“that’s not what i’m asking. why’d you get it? why’d you get them all?”

this question’s asked a lot. i volunteer the answer even when it isn’t. i don’t need time to formulate a response.

“it started because of my scars and bad skin. i wanted distractions.”

i point to a pronounced scar on my upper cheek. i pull down the guinea tee inside my open short-sleeve shirt. this exposes a deep scar on my sternum. it’s ugly but she doesn’t wince. if she did it wouldn’t bother me much.

it’s a response i’ve grown accustomed to.

“there’s more. a lot more. eventually the reason changed. i started commemorating people, places, times, emotions, or just where i was in my mind. it wasn’t intentional. my skin, with all these scars, tattoos, and unpretty marks is my scrap-book.”

“that’s poetic. almost admirable.”

when she finishes i pause. there’s no emotion in her voice. she said “almost admirable.” it’s unclear if she’s being sarcastic. i decide it isn’t important.

she asks, “what’s the scabby one about?”

“it’s about my ‘good’ ideas after midnight. it’s about wanting sunrises and roses. it’s about trying to substitute one for the other even though it’s clearly failing. it’s about loathing myself while i’m lost in brooklyn.”

“that’s poetic. almost admirable.”

there’s more silence before she resumes with aggression.

“revolting. i’m one of your ‘good’ ideas after midnight aren’t i? you’re on another break from hating slash feeling sorry for yourself? i could end up a tattooed scrapbook piece from this cliche period you’re searching for love?”

“yes.”

i pause, look into her eyes, and see what i need to. i whisper, “and i don’t think i’m something too different to you.”

she looks back into me like she’s searching for something. i think she finds it. this might be bullshit though.

she speaks with calm matter-of-factness.

“sounds about right.”

our business is concluded. we’ve gotten what we need from each other.

a few moments pass.

she speaks.

“should we kiss?”

it’s too long after midnight to act surprised.

“do you want to?”

“not really.”

she lights a lucky strike. my roommate and i don’t smoke in the loft. i choose not to object. through the dirty windows the sky looks lighter. the sun’s probably rising. it’s difficult to tell through thick clouds.

her and i don’t speak anymore. however, the awkwardness drowned during our time together. every once and a while there just isn’t anything left to say. i enjoy the silence and feel a pang of hunger.

i take a bite of my roommate’s apple.*

*


we agreed to stop having sex, you took my od’ing ass to beth israel hospital on 1st ave and 16th st – m4w – (williamsburg, borough of lost boys)

*

-foregone fucking, triple c’s, and “big fish”-

*by someone who has trouble believing

those years actually happened*

(frankie leone, just a man)

 *

*it’s revealed to a lost boy

who’s just a man

-

when it meant nothing

back then

-

it always means something

right now

-

and if it meant something

back then

-

it always means something else

right now*

*

*the forgetfulness is cut to shreds

-

our teenage nostrils devour it anyways

hopefully

desperately

-

the little bit of coke in the wasted money

confesses something using her voice

-

“i like hanging out with you more

now that we’re not fucking

-

my hair doesn’t get dreaded,”

she laughs, then continues

-

“my parents don’t harp about protection,

and my feelings for you turn off easily”

-

coming up from an obese line of baking soda

or whatever else it is we’ve paid fifty bucks for

i press my nose and stream my consciousness

-

“condoms are expensive and our relationship

was founded on mutual destruction”

-

after the realization of our evolved association

we choose to fall back on coricidin cough and cold

to get the rest of the way to emotional amnesia

-

and insult the n train

with our animated corpses

uptown to 42nd street

-

to exist in stadium seats

during the new tim burton*

*

*we miss the entire movie

despite being in the back row

over-cooking the whole time

-

she looks at me with fear and concern

-

“i’m fine baby try to enjoy the movie, if anything

i’m temporarily throwing it back to my wild days”

-

the nerve of this chick

i continue in my mind, irritated*

*

*back then the world was on a mission

to wreck my good time*

*

*i know an artist baffled by the fact

bad things often happen to good people

-

to this rainy fall day i’m baffled

when contemplating how her and a friend

-

“trish the dish”

-

got all six foot four inches of lanky overdosing me

to the emergency room on 16th street and 3rd avenue*

*

*years later i see the flick we missed

-

far from tim’s best.*

*


the scene you made on havemeyer & n7th shut my mind up – m4w – 26 – (williamsburg, borough of lost boys)

 

 

-the city sleeps-

*by someone lifting his hands

to take off a broken crown*

(frankie leone, just a man)

 

 

*she waits for me

on a brooklyn street corner

in my mind

 

surrounded by crowds

of yelling fears

and honking conjectures

 

waiting for me

to find courage to be free

 

i hide wrapped in an electron blanket

of an empty self-image

 

in the unheated bedroom

of the pit of my stomach

 

bumping frantic phone calls

from hope and joy unaware

 

the soft leather of her heeled boots

matches the chest-tightening crimson

 

of her lips

 

and droplets trickling rouge

from finger-nail punctures

on my chest and back

 

my eyes are fogged

by the grey of autumn skies

 

and the smoky bar

of an irrelevant yesterday

across the street from her

 

a gust of clarity blows

 

with adoration she looks

straight through the

cabs

bodegas

and squatters

 

rioting through my skull

frightening my vision

 

she tunnels into my cloudy eyes

 

whispering i’m beautiful

to chaotic streets on the north side

of my consciousness

 

and deep into the center

of my rib cage

 

i see robin’s egg and ivory miracles

as she smiles and gazes onto my face

 

with adoration

 

i reply to her stare

with deep forest and domino

 

ecstasy

 

not knowing why this venus

with home-made tattoos

 

lets calloused tips

of long fingers brush her face

 

she can do better

i tell her

 

she gets infuriated

yelling ferociously enough

to silence my streets

 

i almost believe she’s genuine

eventually surrendering fully

to knowing she is

 

we kiss with a gentle color

we fuck with a violent brand

we speak with a compassionate flavor

 

she kisses because that’s what she does

i kiss because it’s all i know

 

she fucks because that’s what now feels like

i fuck because feeling now is terrifying

 

she speaks to share her symphony

i speak because the silence is deafening

 

the din usually in my head

won’t forgive me in times of solitude

 

but her quiet smile

and muted gaze

 

subdue my streets

into reverent silence

 

i peel back joyous lips

showing blunt teeth to

silent alleyways and avenues

 

and i begin to listen

and i begin to change.*


at the coffee shop (at 29 union square west) you looked like the biggest reason people go there – m4w – 26 (williamsburg, borough of lost boys)

 *

-coffee date coming back declined-

*by someone who’s a creep

just like the rest of you*

(frankie leone, just a man)

*

*my breath leaves me after a look at her connects with my sternum.

i stir my coffee with nervous purposelessness. fortune dealt this girl a royal flush her first hand at the table. a tired expression tells me the dealer that’s life in the bitter-sweet apple’s bled a few of her chips recently.

her light brown hair won’t stop it. it shines and falls without apology to the small of her back. i imagine my fingers running through it. i imagine my other set of lanky digits touching the pale skin of her face. these fantasies course guilt through me.

that’s a lie. these thoughts came without guilt. it’s the grimier current flowing through my brain that’s turned it on. dirty protons power neon bulbs glowing onto a hand criss-crossed with scars. it holds her locks in a fist.

in the red-light district of my skull this hand tugs that hair down her back. this glow of impure thought shines through my eyes while looking into hers.

with the best and worst intentions.

in this cheap romance novel that never was i say everything with closed lips. my phantom bodice-ripper keeps ranting from the rack of a non-existent supermarket in my mind.

i struggle against these thoughts. they’ll earn slaps as sound waves. through this battle with myself she keeps earning. her expression’s bored. she isn’t thinking about a man with an unbleached mind at the counter.*

*

*my single-propeller fighter’s fueled with cheap champagne. it dives through indifferent air.

i ready my machine gun hoping its blast will sound like a cliché love song. resting my finger on the trigger in the musty cock-pit i take a drag off a french cigarette.

i exhale irritating hope.*

*

*doing my best gentlemen i smile with vanilla amiability. my vocal chords vibrate into the dog-fight, “miss, what’s your name? been here a couple times. seems like a great thing to know.”

“********, what’s yours?”

“frankie.”

her features warm, but don’t glow orange. it doesn’t matter. i gasp for something beautiful.

she lets smokers lungs have pretty air.

in my seat i write words in bleeding black ink onto the pages of a coffee-stained notebook. as my pen moves i feel her light brown eyes breeze over me. i’m aware the sensation might be there only because i’m been desperate to believe it is.

wiping the counter with bored purpose she’s close enough for me to touch her hand. the feel of her skin would turn a tesla coil flowing from mind to heart to pelvis. her understandable recoil would drop an anvil on my spirit.

i’m grateful the fleeting impulse ceases. looking up at her i smile as mousketeerishly as rough features can.

“your hair’s amazing. it’s so long.”

her hands are covered in flawless skin. they run through a portion of it. i envy them.

“it stopped growing when it got to this length.”

i suspect my smile’s looking more like late-night tv.

“what do you use to keep it looking like that?”

“nothing,” she says with a smile and growing interest in our conversation.

“just naturally beautiful i guess,” i answer a question that hasn’t been asked.

she looks at me. then away. her expression transitions back to blank. she’s remembered there are other things to do and walks to another part of the counter.

the way her body moves says she’s unconcerned with posturing. it whispers her grace isn’t forced. it fluidly articulates there’s no desperation to appear free.

trying to escape detection my eyes brush her again. they’re a green pair of tipsy tourists unaccustomed to no personal space on the n, q, r, or w during rush-hour.

awkward and conspicuous.

judging by the cloth and metal touching her form she doesn’t hear the dreaded series of beeps often. the beeps an atm makes before it sneers out a slip of paper bearing the verdict “insufficient funds.”

our hypothetical future, existing solely behind a face i’ve never considered pretty, fades like tattoos on an old sailor. that skin won’t be complimented by metals and fibers paid for with my condemned debit card.*

*

*catching myself, i decide to shelve my favorite cop-outs in the top drawer of my psyche.

self-pity, feelings of inadequacy, and narcissistic love for my cliché nestle in perfectly with my dirty magazines, broken lighters, yellowing ticket-stubs, photos of misplaced people, and dimly lit memories smelling like bloody tears on ripped sleeves.*

*

*i ask for her attention.

i ask for my check.

i ask her to coffee.

“i’m sorry,” she says in a series of beeps wearing a sympathetic smile, “i have a boyfriend.”

i flash a twelve dollar canal street smile that stops ticking moments later.

i try to dispel the awkwardness with twenty dollar space-heater warmth.

i put the final nail in a two dollar and fifty cent cup of coffee.

i reach into faded skinny jeans to fish out a dollar fifty tip.

i cover the windows to my soul with eight-dollar shades.

i walk out the door and towards the l train free(./?)*

*


on the l train i complimented your scars – 26 (williamsburg, borough of lost boys)

*

-ode to scars–

*by someone who understands

having realized he understands nothing*

(frankie leone, just a man)

*

*he stood and spoke

-

i can’t remember his words

but i remember his voice

 -

that voice had been stripped of everything

everything that might reflect light*

 *

*i remember

 -

walking under the street-lights

of 9th street, a drunken teenager

 -

hypnotized by bits of glass

in the sidewalk’s concrete

 -

sparkling under those streetlights that’ve

always seemed to barely tolerate me*

 *

*while that man stood and spoke

in a well-lit room with no sparkles in his voice

 -

i noticed the vicious scar

at the base of his throat

 -

it was clear a surgeon’s knife didn’t make it

 -

his voice was gruff and distorted

it sounded inhuman*

 *

*i remember

 -

a girl walking apart

because she had no other choice

 -

she smiled sterling but infrequently

-

her hair was short and

aggressively burgundy

 -

there was a long scar

along her forearm

she didn’t make herself

 -

and her voice was unusually deep

 -

she dated our high-school english teacher

and spoke about sex like it wasn’t a big deal

 -

one of few girls i was convinced

genuinely felt that way

 -

thinking of her now

 -

i know her cigarette burns comfortably

as she reclines unashamed

in bed next to a faceless man

 -

who may or may not understand

 -

staring with muted intensity

through bedroom walls

 -

into

somewhere

someone

or something

 -

meaning more*

 *

*i stared

transfixed on the scar

 -

he noticed me scanning his face

 -

it’s likely he misunderstood

thinking my intrigue was sexual

 -

it wasn’t, but i realized myself

more than usual

-

averting my scarry eyes*

 *

*i remember

a man i separated myself from

in my mind

 -

in a group

at the center of a masquerade

overtoned with forced darkness

 -

he was older

quieter

and disfigured

 -

similarly to the phantom of the opera

 -

i’ve always felt like a marked man myself

 -

partially because of the marks

i’ve always carried

-

my skin’s never been spared

lady luck’s disapproving frown

 -

but i can see now my scars lie mainly

within the walls of my skull

 -

and i won’t forget them

because i’m comfortable remembering them

 -

this man was denied

the luxury of my vain neurosis

 -

and as i stood uncomfortably

alone in a crowd of thousands

 -

he bought me a bottle of water

 -

helping me understand a little more*

*

*there was nothing to say

to this stranger with a voice

 -

that could throw a shroud over a disco ball

 -

i wanted to know where he’d been

where he was

and where he was going

 -

but those cards weren’t in my hand

 -

i turned to a friend

and nodded towards the door

 -

before putting on a coat i couldn’t afford

turning up its collar against

what i’d never understand

 -

and stepping onto north 6th street*

*

*the ash of years falls from my cigarette

and i’m remembering

 -

eyes lips faces forms voices strides

and scars

 -

i’m unsure what i know

about things warping my city

-

obsession

longing

hatred

and l***

 -

but i do know

for a reason i can’t

put one of my long fingers on

 -

women i’ve held

and wanted to never let go

 -

women i’ve intentionally fallen backwards

into the abyss of myself countless times for

 -

and men that became my brothers

 -

men i’d throw a drink

into the face of lady luck to defend

 -

have beautiful scars

behind hopeful wary eyes

or etched into gorgeous bodies

 -

eyes and bodies that’ve been places

they might’ve avoided

 -

if they could work impossible feats

with their artfully scratched hour glasses.*

*


french girl that grabbed my ass at the blackbird parlour (on n6th st & 197 bedford ave) – m4w – 26 (williamsburg, borough of lost boys)

 *

-paper lily prostitute-

*by someone who knew too much then

to feel self-pity now*

(frankie leone, just a man)

 *

*i tell her to keep her eyes open. to keep them fastened onto mine. she humors me.

our stares bind us together. we kiss with a special desperation. it’s reserved for those whose feet can’t touch concrete.

“you’re so cerebral,” she says with surprise. her accent glistens with red wine, thrill-seeking pain, and her hometown of paris.

we continue our dance in my tiny room with great windows. my clock radio snitches to the crooked cop inside me- delusion. it whispers it’s too long before midnight for tangoing on faded sheets to be meaningless.

“not today darling,” she says before the point of no return.

her brown eyes die to embers. a petite body wrapped in pale skin taunts me. this has happened with enough men for her to know i’m uncomfortable. she gives what sounds like a genuine apology.

there’re moments of silence.

i ask, “why not?”

“because this will become the only thing it can.”

“so?”

“i’ve had too many passionate lost boys. i’m too old for this. i need a man that can keep me on the ground.”

my mouth shuts. her hollow point words break up inside me. i falter. saccharin lies in sweet rejections only pierce as deep as the tattoos covering my skin. the kill shot of this truth can’t be removed by the most skillful surgeon. i force a knock-off rolex smile.

this lost boy asks, “who says i’m lost?”

she responds like an adult.

“baby it’s probably been written on your face since birth.”

my smile maintains the authenticity of a canal street designer purse. i do what i can.

“i guess i better buy better clown make-up.”

i put my drug-store undershirt over my thin frame and stretch long. i stare at the ceiling while she touches my face.

it’s too numb to feel her caress.*

 *

*there’s a knock on the heavy steel door of a mistake. the heavy steel door of apartment 216 in an old warehouse building on kent avenue.

i open it. she’s drunk.

it isn’t difficult to guess why she’s standing in my hallway. her beauty’s smeared with top-shelf forgetfulness bought by older men. rouge is caked on her voice. i’ve seen women wear this make-up during cameos for casual sex before.

i want her but i want more than she’s come to offer.

a dedicated hustler never turns away a trick. i pull her short hair back and kiss her. her darting tongue pushes stepped-on hope passed my lips and into my mind. i’m a fiend for it.

i’m not afraid of shame beating me down later for getting strung out on hope. shame gets a cut of my thoughts. i get to have my kicks.

after pulling me into my bedroom. she asks with half-interested suspicion, “i’m not complaining baby, but is this real? is this just you on a porno set?”

the cement of this question’s troweled onto my psyche.

i feel obligated to lie.

the cement dries and i realize my voice has worn torn fish-nets and patent-leather boots since we’ve met.

we fuck. it’s good.*

 *

*she was never present but she’s leaving. leaving my city for a country where baguettes are world-warping.

a place where men on the screen are overly emotional and weak. their women are colder than the steel door of apartment 216. like many americans i’ve been educated mostly by movies.

there’ve been moments she’s shown warmth. i worry how she’ll get by back home. i smile and joke with plastic confidence, “you’re not good at being a french woman.”*

 *

*i bring her cheap flowers to say good bye. lilies.

the stems, petals, leaves, and stamens made out of free newspapers. it’s all i can do. my stack of raw materials comes from newspaper boxes near the subway station.

i take them during the day. while i walk away a pale man wearing an airport-bought tie gives a harsh-spoken lesson in manners.

“one paper says the same thing as five. how about some consideration?”

my gait stops. i turn and remove my sunglasses. in my city something can mean nothing. especially if it isn’t said into someone’s eyes.

i say something.

“how about the golden rule of staying safe in new york? mind your own business.”

he detours into a crowded pizzeria ten feet away. i turn, put on my shades, and move on to make flowers.*

 *

*night invites itself into brooklyn.

it’s a short walk to the blackbird parlour. the place is filled with the beautiful, hip, disillusioned, privileged, and alone. tonight i feel like i belong. the clothes on my skin impress enough to receive some stares.

she looks breath-taking and radiates sensuous energy from a barstool. she wears a black cashmere dress, evening make-up, and four-inch heels. i hand over the lilies with a few words.

she grips my sides. she kisses my face. she touches my ass. it’s too long before midnight, if only in my mind, to see her the way i might another night.

a pretty man with long auburn hair and john varvatos sneakers insists on buying her a drink. in this moment i realize this stunning woman, and myself, will end up where we should.

if we don’t it’s just where we need to be.

her brown eyes watch the man pay the bartender. i see an opportunity walk away from a truth and take it.

a pair of worn wingtips find the sidewalk on the corner of north 6th street and bedford avenue. i walk the streets (home).*

 *


at the animal medical center (on 510 E 62nd st & york ave) your pit bull pissed on my over-priced shoes – m4w – 26 (williamsburg, borough of lost boys)

*

-a pit bull and long legs in cowboy boots-

*by someone who’s grateful*

(frankie leone, just a man)

*

*she’s decided i’m not her type

i’ve type-casted myself desperately generous

-

i enjoy the aloofness of cats

her dog’s jumping on the reaper at the door

-

i’m weary of towings and tickets

she doesn’t know anyone else with a car

-

i hustled my city into free healthcare

her dog’s another american too poor to be sick

-

i passionately dislike midtown manhattan

the animal e.r. smirks from 62nd street

-

i left bushwick, embarassing hookers by my old building

a 96 camry med-evac’s called in blocks from it

-

i think of this girl with alabaster legs

long enough to turn my mind treacherous

-

i think of this girl with powdered snow in her heart

through the dirty brooklyn slush in my mind telling me

-

to get off the phone and continue business

as usual at 1 a.m. this freezing wednesday night

-

to be up blunt

-

“i’m not a car service

i’m not a sucker

i’m not a vet

-

you rejected me”

-

to be civilized

-

“the starter’s fucked

i’m out of town right now

i have work in five hours

-

i’m not getting anything out of it”

-

guilt gets the better of me

before pressing “end” i hear

-

“thank you *******

i owe you everything”*

*

*the dog’s on the floor immobile

foaming canine epilepsy from slack jaws

-

seventy pounds of pit-bull paper-weight

-

she’s friendly and smiling

the hurricane of tears passed

after the first hour and a half

-

“if i carry her to my car will i lose part of my face”

-

“does she look like she’s in a fighting mood”

-

“i struggle with the obvious baby girl, sorry”

-

as the sky-line looks at us with indifference

so i utilize one of george carlin’s philosophies

-

if a cop doesn’t see it no law’s been broken

-

my battered car mad-dogs every light

from jefferson and wyckoff to 62nd and york

-

every red glare wavers to it’s unflinching stare

-

her marlboro light 100 burns calmly

she pulls

inhales

and exhales into her moment

-

her tone reflects meaningless nights

we’ve both forgotten, she speaks

-

“i moved to a neighborhood with syringes on

the side-walk so she could have a back yard

-

shit, i don’t care about gardening”*

*

*my bad brakes screech

my hazards flash

my back doors open

my lanky limbs lift

my only pair of expensive shoes

-

are drenched in urine as her closest friend

in my city leaves it in the arms of a stranger

-

i place the deceased on a sterile steel gurney

and embrace her as she weeps

-

the scent of her strawberry blonde hair adds

raw sugar to the black coffee of these minutes

-

i knew we won’t forget

i knew we can’t forget*

*

*our pace is civilized heading home to brooklyn

-

my left hand grips the wheel with calloused fingers

my right hand holds hers over the center console

-

feeling the unique birth mark textured like

armadillo skin covering her thumb

-

i disrupt the silence with a whisper

-

“i’ve seen people i care for cross over and hated

loud-mouths who try to console me with their

-

infinite wisdom

-

the truth is i rarely say the right thing

so please don’t think my silence is apathy

-

it’s just a cleaner window into ignorance”

-

she increases the pressure around

my big hand before breathing a soft

-

“thank you”

-

after which the empty streets stand still with grief

and the silent radio gives its condolences.*

*


the “we’d work better as friends” line totally made that night at the bushwick country club (on 618 grand st and leonard st) – m4w – 26 (williamsburg, borough of lost boys)

 *

-self hating egoist-

*by someone staring without anesthesia*

(frankie leone, just a man)

 *

*a muggy summer day vibrates through her voice.

“what’s his new girl look like?”

“she’s hot,” my fear of drought says. i’m hoarse.

without faltering her noon sun shines, “yeah, i heard she was cute.”

“hmm. cute’s more accurate. i could tell she could fuck though,” i comment into our uncomfortable temperature.

they say it can’t rain all the time. her reply doesn’t concur.

“ugh. creepy and derogatory. aren’t you his friend? you’re saying his girl’s slutty-looking.”

sticky with a humid truth i retort, “he is. i’d give him the thumb of my writing hand. i didn’t call her slutty-looking. i said she looked like she could fuck.”

“what’s the difference,” she inquires cumulusly.

my muscles ache in a calm voice, “i saw passion and pain. i bet she’s never had it easy.”

irritated storm clouds darken her eyes.

“what do hard times and pain have to do with good sex?”

my words rain dance. it’s lewd. i explain, “there’s a direct correlation between passion and pain. when someone’s felt enough pain they fuck with passion. when they’ve felt too much they fuck with desperation.”

her thunder rumbles through tense air, “that’s a sick sad thing to say. you enjoy fucking out of desperation?”

i knife the clouds with my answer, “no, i don’t. the best sex of my life has been fucking with desperation though.”

“where’s all this written? you make outlandish statements like they’re fact. who are you? how can you see these abstract things in people,” her droplets fall on my ears with steady anger.

i put up my umbrella calmly.

“it’s not written anywhere. it’s just my experience. i enjoy making blanket statements. they feel powerful. why do i believe i see these things? i think the lost see themselves more than anyone else.”

her words freeze to sleet, “is this morbid bragging about being a good lay? who talks like this? you’re so arrogant. i’ll give it to you though- you’re unique. egoists gushing self-hatred have to be rare.”

long moments of silence freeze her over my emotions.

i put an ice-scraper to work just above a whisper, “remember the last night we spent together? before you decided we’d work better as friends? not a bad time right?”

her face tenses to the dead of winter. those eyes gust to the floor. i’m frost-bitten by more miserable silence.

her blue-black december sky concludes our exchange.

“i hope you rot in hell forever you piece of shit.”*

*


in the street light of meserole ave you said “i don’t really know who you are” – m4w – 26 (williamsburg, borough of lost boys)

 *

-gypsy-

*by someone who thought he’d lived too much

until seeing he hadn’t lived at all*

(frankie leone, just a man)

 *

*my name’s frankie and

i’m a passionate old man from a sand-paper neighborhood in brooklyn making elegant dresses, tasty sauce, complicated circuit boards, and tasteless jokes with a broken heart producing a golder glow than marcellas wallace’s briefcase.

i’m a profoundly loveable woman from a public housing project in akron, ohio with self-realized ambitions, impeccable writing, and green eyes that warm the world fast enough to make al gore weep.

i’m a sterile building downtown where mostly jews give birth.

i’m four pounds eleven ounces… “you can’t take him home tonight. it would be irresponsible and dangerous.”

i’m an apartment a flight up from a woman that immaculately conceived atticus finch draining forgetfulness from a bottle… “harper was so sweet when you were born. it’s just there was such a sadness about her.”

i’m a dangerously unhappy stranger throwing sheets of glass out a third story window that landed a few feet from a pregnant mother and young boy walking on 7th avenue… “we’ve got to leave this city, our kids deserve better.”

i’m a stunning girl with steely strength, beautiful brown hair, and a drive to get what she deserves now seeming across an icy ocean in the same room.

i’m a vanilla town with green lawns and catholic churches where every last name starts with mc or ends in a vowel… “the wife, kids, and me just got here. you’re from brooklyn too? 61st and 1st right by the gowanus. yeah my old man’s a guinea from the old school, folks straight off ellis island… it’s too quiet at night cat.”

i’m an old man with battered knuckles wearing a wife-beater revealing a faded tattoo of a battle-ship while collecting clown sculptures, gambling compulsively, playing classical guitar, stealing, cooking impressively, readily street-fighting at 70, and proving shocking kindness … “frankie, poppie was a good man. i love my father, he did the best he knew how.”

i’m terminator ii with dad and poppie. usually just the younger man takes the boy to the movies… “hey frankie, why’s this fuckin’ robot after this kid? all this trouble. looks like a little shit of a kid to me. – hey dad, don’t talk to my kid like that. – yeah, yeah. i gotta get on the bus to ac i’m down half-a-hundred at the tables. – we’ll get you there pop, take it easy.”

i’m irregular early growth, awkward height, strange scars, and a great hitter but too uncoordinated to catch a ball… “hey kid, you should play basketball.”

i’m a jurassic park lunch-box with a shoulder strap, turtle-necks bought by mom, buck teeth until embarrassing braces, and standing apart because it feels like there’s no other choice… “all the other children like him. i wish he could see it if only for a second. he’d be so happy.”

i’m leonard cohen, donna summers, billie holiday, diana ross, joe cocker, nina simone, michael jackson, and the beatles… “dance with me momma.”

i’m bleeding knuckles learning a tragic trade in the school-yard… “take it easy! scotty, get to the nurses office. frankie, you’re going to the principles office. you’re a scrappy thing aren’t you? you can’t fight everyone who gives you a hard time. this has to stop. at least fight fair.”

i’m used bookstores devoured by barnes and nobles called to track down forgotten authors in hopes of spending allowance, birthday, and christmas money… “they’ll ship tomorrow. does your mother know you’re reading this? do you play outside?”

i’m the absence of wind off cliff and ever-green lined coast of maine around a boy content with being alone at the oars… “i do believe the sea’s in your blood young man.”

i’m wax sculptures made with cheap candles and salvaged wine bottles by two outcasts; onestrangely tall and skinny. the other a ginger with a mouth full of vicious rhetoric… “what’re you kids doing back here? drinking the last drops out of bottles? do your parents know you hang out in allies behind bars?”

i’m “too smart for his own good,”  “he gets maximum results with minimal effort,” and “he’s cursed.”… “here you come with your cronies; a king among cannibals.”

i’m a mohawk, leather, contact rubber cement, porn, steel reserve, scarring acne, marlboro reds, directionless anger, dark dirty clubs in the lower east side, bruises, broken teeth, and future regret for chasing a lie… “i tell mike and dave to stay away from frankie and his friends. i’ve heard idiot kids calling him ‘the don’ now. he’s just a skell with ridiculous hair. a terrible influence.”

i’m an unwavering grudge against you and everyone you know- the youngest delinquent of a group of hardened children… “he’s so oppositionally defiant. we don’t know what to do with him.”

i’m a pretty girl with pale skin ignored by most smoking alone on the curb in the middle-school parking lot. the unexpected gift of a white rose given by an outcast starts his painful trend of falling in love with beautiful strangers.

i’m the smoldering ruin of a police pool club, black eyes, graffiti’d walls, out-of-school suspensions, and hand-cuffs that are too tight… “that’s a bunch of bull-shit. we’re not a gang. we’re family. frankie, you should look out for you and yours. we’re yours. it’s time to get your ink.”

i’m a a series of different oubliettes. a frozen desert, the boonies of nj, next to a great salt lake, outside a beautiful ski-town, and in a forgotten corner of an unimportant state. three years of reformatories pass… “baby boy, this the life we chose. keep yo’ head up and stay wilin’ fo’ respect. you gon’ be platinum.”

i’m a setting sun over a canyon filled with natural red rock pillars watched by an escaped reform school boy and girl slowly kissing and smoking rollies. they pay for the moments with everything they had but regret never found them.

i’m an elegant italian woman from bay ridge brooklyn smoking long thin cigarettes and speaking with sophistication despite constantly saying “fuck.” for some reason maternal devotion is given to a volatile young man.

i’m the streets of a watered down lower east side and a 100 proof north brooklyn. an out of school education is given to a kid wearing a uniform of steel toe doc martens, a cold piece of metal, and a petrified heart. a starter pistol goes off sounding like four horsemen moving fast… “get in the car frankie, it’s time to do work on these streets. don’t forget the chaos.”

i’m a gorgeous thirty-seven year old woman with recklessness projecting from her pores and an obsession with staying young burning in her eyes. an eighteen-year-old kid makes the transition from high-school hooking up to fucking. he enjoys being chauffeured around in limousines and drinking at tuxedo-service restaurants.

i’m a lifeless ocean of tangueray, a desert floor of the white lady, an hour glass filled with the brown boy, and a void that won’t be filled full of choking smoke.

i’m crushed glass sparkling in the street-lit concrete of 9th street etched forever into the memory of a fogged teenager. his spinning compass.

i’m two parents watching a child enthusiastically walk down a spiral staircase into a putrid catacomb; the mother dragging him to free art exhibitions and off-broadway shows the entire time.

i’m a blunt kid with a fading british accent and bad home-made tattoos wrapped around arms looking like a child’s magna-doodle pad. everywhere and nowhere’s traveled to on a dark road. the asphalt ends in abandonment besides fifty bucks in a commissary when there’s spare cash… “the sun always seems to rise over the highway when we roll in your caddy mate. we always seem to be wearing our mirrored specs already too. la vida loca frankie. cheers.”

i’m a fatal girl perfumed with hopelessness, sex, and desperation unconcerned with the truth. a kid’s heart is wrung out by delicate hands wearing gloves of steel wool… “baby, i don’t give a fuck how cliché it is; i’ll always be your nancy and you’ll always be my sid.”

i’m almost seven years of darkness where resignation reigns alongside no hope for love, community, a future, true friendship, a predictable tomorrow, and a decent life-span… “frankie, every day is another chance in life.” – “no ma, the sun rising is a prison sentence for me.”

i’m a hideous miracle throwing a torch into a pitch-black abyss… “the state of — finds you guilty on all counts.”

i’m the conclusion of twenty-two years of prayers to night skies. for the first time inside a foreboding vault of memories there’s hope for something better.

i’m crucial words heard by a lost boy not long after he comes outside, “the streets ain’t shit. stepping away from the fringes of humanity is easy. living the life that follows is the real work. start your journey young blood.”

i’m a short guy in his mid-30’s wrapped in thick muscle with most skin covered in japanese art; an ok car thief and really good fiend once upon a time. these days a beautiful man that runs a restaurant taking an overwhelmed kid under his wing. advice isn’t given on the unknown, but enough is known.

i’m a short old man with bad teeth and a big belly wearing sweat pants and chucks; once a vicious gangster and vietnam veteran but now a loving father, master-carpenter, wonderful friend, and enlightened man that knows pain, love, and hope(ful/less)ness.

i’m a week at a penthouse in miami with a wealthy morally-flexible russian and aspiring male stripper. completely sober the entire time. at dusk wisps of hope come in through the balcony overlooking the ocean and the scent of love sweeps in through the balcony with a view of the bay.

i’m a beautiful woman given the window seat on a ferry outside venice on a clear summer day. a tall skinny man watches her and feels mind-bendingly grateful his mother is smiling out a clean window.

i’m the realization now’s the time to move pieces other than pawns.

i’m the northern portion of the borough of lost boys where the lost come to search for something they can’t identify. a lanky monolith in close-fitting garments roams under street lights blinded by romantic notions he prays are founded on something.

i’m a fourth-floor walk-up in bushwick with prostitutes visible from a bedroom window. an icy computer programmer grossly overcharges as an unsettling sex addict creates a series of uncomfortable situations. one month notice immediately.

i’m a melancholy israeli tattooed to the finger-tips with a passion for good clothes, goya’s paintings, loyal friends from the bricks, and the night. a lost boy sugar-walks next to him.

i’m a pink and orange sky lined by fireworks over the bqe. under it three men grasping the fallacy of cool glide in a monte carlo wearing calm expressions and listening to funk.

i’m a sore back and wrists learning how to move furniture and boxes with an illustrated enigma, a musician with an afro and glasses, a middle-aged illegal immigrant, and an experimental theater actor with a gold tooth.

i’m tired green eyes stung by flashbulbs while flamboyantly gay photographers coin the look attached to the man wearing them… “frankie, we don’t love you because you look like a pretty teenager. we love you because you’re defexy. you look you’ve been places you shouldn’t have. stand very straight, arch your back, and stick your hips a little forward. beautiful. just keep that dangerous face expressionless sweetie.”

i’m the cruel doors of clubs with deceptive dim lights a crew of tall well-dressed men are waved passed by muscle-bound sentinels wearing plastic smiles.

i’m the disillusioned man next to the dance-floor with smoke and mirrors in his eyes watching a crowd of regret tomorrow morning with fading interest.

i’m an old warehouse building on kent avenue covered in graffiti with thin walls, parties, sublime people, and a room for a man freezing on the streets in the sweltering heat of a summer long passed. the promised land.

i’m a sun rise each morning over brooklyn shining through a dirty window onto a hopeful man and his black cat with eyes two different shades of yellow.*

*


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