published by thewgnews.com
-christ on kent avenue-
*by someone desperately trying
to “get off the cross” erected in his mind*
(frankie leone, just a man)
*she doesn’t smell like hope. we’d smell the same if i’d been born beautiful.
she’s sitting in the passenger seat of a rental van i paid a hundred dollars for at a williamsburg penske lot. the television i don’t own could show a pacific coast.
its water would massage my eyes with only half the strength of the blue filling her irises.
doesn’t matter. i’m on the clock and watching the road. not admiring the ocean with a corona.
at a light she looks into the shadows in my eye-sockets. i nearly believe she sees what i want her to.
we ride over the williamsburg bridge. it’s early. the street-lights are a ways off. i’m grateful there’s no coins on those eyes while i ferry her out of the borough of lost boys onto the island of broken promises.
i ask what her passion is.
“i write too,” she offers.
when asked to describe her poetry she replies, “dark and lustful.”
it’s been a while since i’ve been in a church. still, my thoughts turn from poland springs to dark and lustful boones farm wine.
my best impression of a gentleman endures.
she expresses gratitude for the paid service i’m providing. i respond.
“you’re welcome. i’m glad i got to find out who you are,” and tap on the breaks of my boat loaded with her worldly possessions at the red light on clinton and delancey.*
*“will you paint my bedroom tomorrow? it’s small and the ceiling doesn’t need painting. i don’t want to deal with it. just need my security deposit. two-hundred dollars? tomorrow at five?”
she doesn’t know. i’d paint her whole building to barter time there. even alone and working as the help.
my features are heavy. the crocodile smile disturbing my stubble appreciates the break. it adjusts to speak.
“love to. i’ll be there.”*
*it’s noon two days later.
i’m out of bed feeling like things are going to happen for me. three days of work gave me sleep that usually only happens underneath headstones.
i slouch on a broken couch upholstered with dirty gold velour. my attire consist of an undershirt, grime-stained bandanna, glasses, and thoughtlessly low shorts. it’s all covered in paint stains. pronounced hip-bones of a body momma complains is too skinny are exposed.
the girls next door are making everyone french toast. i haven’t had breakfast beyond cereal in what seems like years.
a delfonics song breaks from my phone. fingers covered in primer paint reach for it. they silence “hey love.”
“good morning frankie,” my piece of metal and plastic passes along in an edged tone.
“how’s the paint looking? everything ok?”
“it doesn’t look finished. there’s paint on the floor and furniture. i’m about to cry.”
“i’m getting on my bike now. i’ll fix it. be there in twenty minutes.”
verizon wireless yawns behind a executioner mask. its axe falls.
“i’m not concerned with the money. keep it. i’m doing it myself. good bye frankie.”
the call ends. that’s what they do.
something inside twists and snaps. something inside freezes and shatters. i want to believe it’s my heart.
untrue. i’m saturated with an anguish that’s been with me much longer than her.
something in my back pocket’s nauseated.
folds of vinyl alligator skin bought in a jersey thrift shop for a buck fifty vomit two-hundred dollars into an envelope. my warped romantic ideas dash towards a similar restroom.
a bic pen places an apologetic plea for acceptance across it. my camouflaged hope for sympathy colors a sunset of sincerity a muddy brown.
in reform school an older boy with home-made tattoos on his face passed a life-long see-saw of half-truth to me-
“all chicas are bitches or whores except the virgin de guadalupe and our moms.”
the latter gave me an enormous box of mentos for my birthday. it’s shaped like a stack of printer paper. the envelope finds its way inside.
i borrow a bicycle built for someone who isn’t six-feet four-inches of lanky limb. its owner’s head’s is level with my sternum. she urges me to stay calm.
“it’s not the end of the world.”
a shaking hand of clarity floats in my din of frenzied emotion. it uncocks a saturday night special of misplaced rage. i don’t have the courage to put it against my temple.*
*it’d be liberating to paint the logo of bitch or whore on my idea of her. i search my mind for the stencil.
lady luck smirks with a dash of sadism. it isn’t there.
my vision’s clear enough to see a near-stranger wanting to help a broke guy. her intention wasn’t to get fucked.
i start pedaling down the long stretch of road along north brooklyn’s water-front. the sky’s cloudless, electric blue, and pelting over-enthusiastic rays. i don’t interject it’s too rough.
it’s caught up in our moment’s passion.
i try to believe i’m peddling towards an act of fate-altering devotion. i try to believe i’m peddling towards affirmations of nobility and beauty. i try to believe i’m peddling towards personifications of hope and salvation.
all bullshit. the present’s fogged the thick-rimmed glasses on my face.
it’s ok. i won’t need them soon. lasik surgery waits in greenpoint with a girl who has enough money but no time or emotion to spare.
i’ve stuffed two-hundred dollars of forgettable romance movie into an envelope. mismanaged funds financing delusion-fueled melodrama.*
*in the suburbs there’re paper-boys. i never knew one. through a blind-fold of fear i couldn’t see another way.
sight isn’t needed to wring green paper out of flexible morals. it’s been a long time since i’ve felt the rush (guilt, and consequences) of stuffing someone else’s livelihood into my pocket. old memories still crawl around the inside of my skull- ugly little flies with their wings ripped off.
there’s no room for a de-feathered swan.
the fact i wasn’t a paper-boy shines. my tattooed arm tosses the package of refined sugar, unwelcome apology, and ten worn portraits of andrew jackson past her building’s front fence towards its door.
lady luck sips a martini and turns her head in disinterest. dupont street’s asphalt writes her fake phone number on the cocktail napkin of my flesh.
my elbow shreds. my wrists let loose crimson from gravel-filled scrapes. four gashes appear along my legs. skin on my ankles and tops of my feet take a vacation. worn canvas slip-ons soak up a long swig of me.
part of the truth is i don’t want her to see these things. i pick up the rest of it off the ground almost as fast as myself-
this beautiful stranger might see the extent of my ability to lie to myself.
i throw the chain-less bicycle across my shoulders and bolt from those eyes. i don’t realize i’m running blind more than figuratively.
i leave my dignity, delusion, blood, and glasses on dupont street.*
*later i’ll lie out of shame why i’m not riding the pint-sized bicycle home. it’d lower the widow-maker’s blade on this long hour of self-pity.
i leave the chain off and carry it on my back. red-smeared hands hold it level with my shoulders.
i want blood. i want tears. i want a narcissistic performance of agony for an audience of one.
i want to walk along the water.*
*they see me before i see them.
a teenager with androgynous-features and man with a camera. the smell of success bought with someone else’s credit-card fills my resentful nostrils.
i have to give it to them- they pull it off. the noon sun looks good on their hollywood personas. the man with the camera speaks accented words intended to be heard by me.
“when we got in the cab on 11th avenue did you think we’d find ourselves a hip jesus with a bicycle walking to martyrdom on the other side of this river?”
the model’s response is in french. i don’t understand the language. none-the-less, it irks me more than the photographer’s unwelcome playfulness.
more sound-waves find their way out of the big deal, “hey handsome, have you considered modeling? without all that blood and dirt you might be able to kill a few ladies with that face and body. all those tattoos too! may i have a photo of my lord and savior?”
this isn’t flattering. or insulting. it’s only singing a love-song to a special kind of vanity. it’s an offer to prove this hasn’t happened only in my mind.
my stride stops. he raises his camera to etch another soul. there’s no flash. i wince after the camera’s mechanical noise anyway.
finished, he approaches to put a business card in my shorts’ pocket. i ignore the lack of boundaries.
“so, who’s your roman cheri? the one that left you to walk to the hill all by yourself! delivery truck? pot-hole?”
i start walking. under my breath i speak from the old testament. my words are worth fifteen pieces of silver.
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