Monthly Archives: April 2011

at patrizia’s (on 35 broadway and wythe ave) you exclaimed, “i thought we were in williamsburg? there’s enough food on my plate for a human being” – 26 (williamsburg, borough of lost boys)

*

-django reinhardt-

*by someone toe-to-toe with the music*

(frankie leone, just a man)

*

*death looked sexy in my grandfather’s hands.

the lit fuse to his mortality always burned in one of them. he gave everyone he met a good look at it. that fuse looked like lucky strike unfiltered. two packs a day.

the smoke’d mesmerize me creeping from nostrils of his roman nose. it reminded me of silk. the kind that lines luxurious caskets. those grey rivers flowing from under his black mustache thrilled me. they poured like twenty-year-old scotch. the same they serve at plaza hotel funeral parties.

he presented grand spectacle after spectacle. each started with the click of a worn zippo. their level of skill was impressive for anyone. especially for a perpetually broke bus driver, card shark, and thief.

one born to illiterate parents who’d just stepped off ellis island.

to me those cigarettes smelled like the american dream. like everything he did, for better or worse, my poppy smoked like he meant it.

even during chemo.*

*

*no one except him could touch his guitar. ever.

“why’s it have that design around the hole and not the black tear-looking thing,” i ask.

he flips the instrument around and holds its back towards me. my green eyes absorb it. “made in spain” is branded onto the polished wood in neat stick letters.

poppy explains, “’cause spicks made this one. not uh bunch uh hick cowboys. those bastuhds know how tuh make sumthin’ beautafull.”

a seventeen year old’s musical tastes ask, “can you play any punk rock?”

leaning forward he lights a lucky with his tarnished silver zippo. the words “fuck karl marx” are etched on it.

a hundred proof stare smacks me behind the ear before he extinguishes the lighter’s flame. “shut ya stupe-it face,” he says glaring into me.

his face holds chestnut-brown ice-picks. after a frustrated drag he continues, “askin’ me sum garbage like that. yuh got rocks in yuh hed?”

i’m struck silent. his voice and the things it says are mysteries i’ll never truly understand. he was born to a different new york than me. that city only exists as ruins.

ruins in the minds of deceased immigrants’ dying children.

few have ever earned both my fear and respect. poppy has. my automatic beef with anyone over thirty won’t step up to defend punk rock. i ask a more careful question.

“what do you play then? whose songs?”

he places his cigarette far to the left between his lips. both hands begin tuning the guitar. after a grey exhale he responds. his enunciation’s just as clear with the lucky in his mouth.

“jang-go’s,” he says.

“what’s that?”

“yuh mean ‘who.’ only thuh most beautahfull sunuvabitch yuh ever heard. was missin’ uh bunch uh finguhs. uh gypsy. only one i evuh trusted. uh frog too. been worm food in some graveyard for uh while now.”

“never heard of him. sounds cool. why’s the guy your favorite?”

“only mans ever made me jealous. plays thuh kinda stuff makes yuh sane, drives yuh crazy, and takes yuh back again. day yuh great nan sent my ‘ole man off uh ruff-top in harlum he was lissnun’ tuh jeng-go. we know ’cause he lef’ the reckuhd on the playuh. jang-go played music tuh live tuh. played some tuh die tuh too.”

as he finishes he makes the sign of the cross.

“everyone told me he fell. your mom pushed your dad off that roof?

“ma weren’t on tha’ roof with ‘im but she shore as shit pusht him awff. thuh way the ole’ man foldid ain’ uh simpull thing. you’s too young tuh unerstan’.”

“i’m not a little kid. only a couple months ’til i’m a legal adult. dad isn’t big on talking about dead family. i might never hear and really want to know. tell me. please poppy.”

still tuning, the half of his mouth not holding a lucky glides into a smile. he lays the guitar across his lap and moves the cigarette into his fingers.

“yuh know my folks came from naples righ’? tha’s in itlee.”

i feel a little insulted. with instant regret i interrupt.

“i know where naples is.”

he doesn’t care for this. his index and middle fingers point into my face. the lucky between them irritates my eyes.

“shuttup kid. i’m tawkin’ here.”

“sorry, sorry, sorry,” i repeat quickly looking towards the floor.

he continues, “naples, in itlee, is uh city where dumbies don’t las’. it’s uh city uh thieves. yuh learn quick an get tough fas’. if yuh don’t sumbuddy tha’ did might intraduce yup to uh straight razuh or pistull.”

he pauses. his expression seems more thoughtful. his words are slower when he resumes.

“tuff don’ always mattuh though. my ole man’s proof. even thuh streets uh naples din’t get ‘im ready for guinea brawds. they can put yuh six under jus’ as easy as any gun or knife. get wha’ i’m tellin’ yuh kid?”

“great grandma was a handful?”

he smiles at me.

“yuh got tha’ righ’. wanna hear sum jang-go?”

“hell yeah,” i whisper with awe-filled anticipation.

poppy puts the lucky back in his lips to play his guitar.*

*


the four of us played an unsuccessful game of make-believe at morissey night (on spring st between greenwich and hudson) – 26 (williamsburg, borough of lost boys)

*

-outsider, angel, prince, and leopard at sway lounge-

*by someone who was desperate

to believe the lie of night life*

(frankie leone, just a man)

 *

(o)he watches the breath-taking three walk thoughtlessly, afraid, white

(a)vibrantly colored freedom swirls behind eyes, colored filters, blue

(p)nervousness escapes pores through a borrowed open shirt, not him, black

(l)unintentional persuasion, poorly restrained behind pretty skin, gold

(o)his scarred bodly leans, green eyes fix, smoke curls near them, grey

(o)they listen closely, he knows within murky blood, inside his soul too, beige

 *

(o)flattery’s paid to an expensive veil covering his authenticity, beige

(a)hips move awkwardly unlike his, the tapwater’s cloudy but tasteless, white

(p)a smile with a life-time warrantee shines, he wonders if he’s a cloud, grey

(l)in shades-weather they’re unworn, like the street-lights the sky forgives, blue

(o)he wears them, often elvis shades the morning after, cheap chipped frames, gold

(o)they see him and watch, even in bright rooms he can’t see the mirror, black

 *

(o)he sees the angel give a chip of herself to the leopard, his abyss deepens, black

(a)existing effortlessly, surrounded by the beautiful unsure lost rotten, beige

(p)wanting the angel, but he’s 24 karat and she knows she’ll pawn him, gold

(l)everything washed together in hot instead of cold, tragic, great shirt, white

(o)he’s always coming into new clothes, but he’s afraid of noble colors, blue

(o)his black ensemble will smell tomorrow, he sits in the smoky room, grey

 *

(o)silent melancholy, his words believable knock-offs through the smoke, grey

(a)more a woman than she looks, she woudn’t kiss him, seeing him, black

(p)he’s beautiful, wandering too far into his third world waters, don’t drown, blue

(l)the ugliness never permeated, but now his smoke’s starting to stain, quit, beige

(o)he looks at them afraid of now and the future, careless with precious things, gold

(o)in the dark room he wonders where he can rest, peter’ll stop him at the gates, white

 *

(o)on canal street he feels in his element, money, rolexes in stands, all fake, gold

(a)can smoke only once a week if she wants, he’s jealous, always over a pack, grey

(p)drinking, he moves to music goofily with a matching platinum smile, warmth, white

(l)the leopard has ambition but a light reflects off it, his is blurred empty space, black

(o)the cabs wait outside, his hoopty is blocks away, it needs washing, dirt, beige

(o)when will his eyes match his expression, when will he see the sky without shades, blue

 *

(o)through thin walls they’ll sleep, he’ll smile at them with the sky tomorrow, blue

(a)always at the pawn shop, always giving away the money, her rolex stolen, gold

(p)colors of the night bleed, innocence compromised, tinging towards his shade, beige

(l)buying 27’s at the bodega, the angel’s brand, clouds of a desperate crush exhaled, grey

(o)at the end of the night unseen passion is heard, his bedroom darkens more, black

(o)longing for something beautiful & unbroken, a prettier truth, bleach for his soul, white

*


you liked my “sick tats” in front of fun city tattoo (on st. marks place between 1st and avenue a) – 26 (williamsburg, borough of lost boys)

*

-ink-

*by someone who’s read “it’s just flesh”*

(frankie leone, just a man)

*

*the screen pokes you into my mind. hollywood villains wear you without apology. street-corner thugs stab you into my consciousness. old photographs of sailors display you with defiant past tense.

this child admires all your cameos in his eye-path. someday he’ll have you.*

*

*you mark a man with a beard and unkempt hair walking towards the convenience store. you tell me he’s been places he shouldn’t have.

you tell me he’ll buy an eleven-year-old a pack of cigarettes. i pull the product of this man’s moral flexibility into my lungs.*

*

*you’re spackled through a crowd of teenage punk rockers, aging skinheads, and hopeless squatters. cbgb’s smirks around your bearers. you look dangerous. you look sexy.

i long for you all over my marred skin.*

*

*rhythmically, you drill in the kitchen of  a shitty one bedroom apartment. it hurts. i’m silent the entire time. maladjusted youth of a crew whose emblem you drive into me watch.

it’s my first time.*

*

*you start defining my upper body. you come onto my chest and stomach, my arms. i swear i’ll never let you onto my hands, neck, or face. eventually you wear me down.

you spread sparrows, guns, swirling cursive, kings, broken bottles, laurel wreathes, gothic lettering, sacred hearts, roses, clocks, straight razors, women, spiderwebs, and clipper-ships across me.

i want you. i need you.*

*

*i get older, rougher.

you get more thoughtful. intricate. detailed.

you gave me a scrapbook. i gave you this flesh for its pages.*

*


you hustled me in the deceptive dim lights of my brain at avenue (on 116 10th ave between 17th st and 18th st) -26 (williamsburg, borough of lost boys)

*

-card shark in a summer dress-

*by someone holding aces and eights*

(frankie leone, just a man)

*

*she’s uncomfortable without make-up

and apologizes for not looking like a pin-up girl

-

adamantly denying her natural beauty

in a summer dress and large sunglasses

-

he always feels rusty hat pins

-

twirl into the center of his rib cage

hearing breath-taking girls deny their gifts

-

suspecting they mean it*

*

*he knows ugliness

-

he’s seen it in alleyways

-

where moonlight never hits

the hopeless or wicked

-

but streetlight does

and it never forgives them

-

he’s seen it in dives

-

where pages fall off calendars

but none are written to tell stories

of lifetimes surrendered on sticky barstools

-

he’s seen it behind walls

-

where guards unhappy as inmates

rattle worn night sticks on bars

-

and tears fall silently

down weathered faces

in the dark

-

he’s seen it in the mirror

-

and their was a time

passed now

-

he would’ve taken a fate more twisted

than anything bram stoker could imagine

-

for his reflection to disappear for eternity*

*

*ugliness doesn’t sit across from him

-

only this girl with powder white skin

and eyes the warm blue steel

of a freshly fired garter-belt gun

-

dangling a camel from the softest lips

he can remember putting his on*

*

*she smiles and tells truths

that’d wink if they had eyes

-

saying her shortcomings help define her

therefore feeling no need to lie

-

she dislikes children

-

“you can’t use profanity

or  talk about sex with them

-

my two favorite conversation supplements

-

what’s a girl to do, color?”

-

she’s irresponsible

-

“sometimes my alarm goes off

and my adorable dog barks

-

but i hit the snooze button

he poops on my floor

then gets back in bed with me”

-

she tells unflattering stories

-

“when i drink red wine it dyes my mouth

-

earlier this year

i was at a bar in ireland

-

tipsy

on vacation

and flirting with a handsome guy

-

after a few minutes of talking he interrupted

to tell me he wasn’t paying attention

and that my teeth and lips were completely black”*

*

*his heart swells and his smile’s platinum

instead of the usual tin or occasional plastic

-

knowing she’ll inevitably cause pain

but draws his wooden sword regardless

-

while rushing into battle*

*

*it’s bizarre this gorgeous girl

-

smelling like

hope

sex

and worn lace sprayed with perfume

-

puts her flaws down like a royal flush

as he pushes a life-savings in chips

across a poker table covered in

-

stained

burned

and ripped felt

-

losing it all into the eyes

of the most honestly beautiful poker face

-

to ever take his money.*

*


you said, “it’s your own fault if you get fat,” at popeye’s chicken and biscuits (on 2137 nostrand ave and flatbush ave) – 26 (williamsburg, borough of lost boys)

*

-the devil has blue eyes-

*by someone who kisses with them open*

(frankie leone, just a man)

 *

*it isn’t reality.

but it is. i’m ambling through the basement of my psyche to find him. or her. the one who blew the fuse to the light. one foot dream-stepping in front of the other i’m looking for trouble.*

*

*with clumsy purpose i wander to the street he lured me years back. the stretch of asphalt where i got a few of these scars. he’s still here with his friends in my memory.

the driver of the mercedes sedan holds the same glock 17. he’s nervous. he brought the tool of a killer without the right mind to operate it. the lump of metal and alloy’s more of a menacing accessory in his grip. he must be new to this.

the others are experienced craftsmen. they’re working with their hands though. they did the night i remember.

they all act like i’m not here. the streetlights are sparser in this part of my mind but i know they see me. i’ll wait. i’ve always waited years for this single moment of reckoning.

it’s my experience devils have blue eyes and darken a spirit as long as its owner needs them to. the same’s true for this guy who calls shots in the dark here.

his posture, as usual, is slouched. the windows to his soul are clear and lifeless. in this timeless neighborhood i can stare into them with nothing to lose. he knows why i’m here.

a toothpick moves around in his lips but doesn’t fall as he speaks.

“why you here playa? i ain’t tryin’ to beef wit’ you. i’m a business man. weren’t nothin’ personal.”

the toothpick’s spat on the ground. he turns his back and walks towards the car. opening a rear door he finishes.

“you politickin’. think you’s the only punk i twisted up? some other mo’fucka probly done handled my ass by now. i suggest you get to steppin’.”

in his own way he’s never lied. i can’t see why he’d start now.

the frightened driver turns the ignition key. i turn up my collar to the twilight of my neurons and stumble faster.*

*

*my stride focuses on my way into the bedroom.

this is where i shared newports (among other things) with him. he’s still here- wasting away below the surface of my consciousness.

i think he was a man once. where a soul used to be is a vacuous space now (and then). he offered it to me her with a clean syringe and an introduction to inner city projects.

an overflowing ashtray smolders. daylight’s filtering into the after-hours of my skull through drawn shades. i stand and watch him come in and out of consciousness.

his pollack face is still prettier than mine. his volcanic blue eyes still brim with dull energy.

during a slip into existence he notices me. a smile finds his lips before they mumble, “why the fuck would you come back to this shithole? there’s nothing here for you. what’re you going to do? kill me?”

he forces a weak laugh and fumbles for a smoke. he resumes after lighting the last cigarette in a soft pack of newports.

“i’ll save you the effort soon. if i haven’t already. you’re wasting your time. get out of my god damn bedroom.”

in his own way he’s never lied. i can’t see why he’d start now.

lids close over his dilated eyes. he drifts back into non-existence and i take the burning cigarette from his fingers. before starting a quicker gait i fill my lungs with a long drag.*

*

*here she is. sitting at her kitchen table in my mind.

it’s definitely her. barely pretty, exceedingly intimidating, and eerily charming. i’m sure her androgynous hair cut still encases surgically sharp intelligence. her eyes project the mean brand of assertiveness i remember.

i burned my peace, self-worth, and pride in her name.

my insides fester while i stare. it feels like hatred.

a pen in her short digits marks an onion crossword. as usual she’s unaware. i’m not discouraged because i have all night. in my cranium that’s an indefinite amount of time, and i’ve already given her most of myself.

standing toe-toe with her a truth connects a haymaker to my thoughts- this isn’t an act. it never was.

she’s oblivious to herself. oblivious to me.

in her own way she never lied. i can’t see why she’d start now.

she finishes her crossword. my visit’s finished. my sprint starts to the only one left to blame. the person i’d prayed i would never need to look in the eyes again.*

*

*the dead-bolt on the door to this apartment of my brain’s tricky.

i manage none-the-less. a misspent youth helps with misbehaving locks. i drop my bag next to the door and take a piss. aggravated, i notice there’s no toilet paper in the bathroom.

it’s unfortunate there’s no one else here to hold responsible.

after washing my hands i look into my bathroom mirror and smirk. i’ve always wanted blue eyes.*

*


i said you could get “a real american hamburger” at jackson hole (on 517 columbus ave and west 85th street) – 26 (williamsburg, borough of lost boys)

 *

-brooklyn patriot-

*by someone proud to be an american*

(frankie leone, just a man)

 *

*a young man who doesn’t look too young

thinks he’s lived more than he has

-

and’s never had much of a political stance

besides finding complaints

about the state of his nation

-

masturbatory

-

but as he grows older

jerking off doesn’t cut it anymore*

*

*it’s independence day

-

he exhales winks and longing glances

through his nostrils

walking with feather-weight footsteps

-

riding the manhattan bound l train to bedford ave

heart touching both sides of his ribcage

before slinking onto the street

-

williamsburg enters him through dark sunglasses

the sun smiling onto his arms and face

-

and he falls in love a couple times a minute

with crowds of summer dresses

ray-ban wayfarers

and platform heels*

*

*he meets an old friend

by the running track in mccarren park

-

with placid eyes they talk about

times passed

times present

times to come

and times that never will

-

before driving away from the park

and the safety of a new greenwich village

-

to brooklyn*

*

*from the car they notice a man on his back

surrounded by sullen men and hysterical women

-

drive about twenty feet and stop

-

the friend says

“go check that out”

-

he obliges 

-

moving up the block

his gait casual

covering the windows to his soul with shades

-

not wanting to offend with blatant staring

-

the man on the sidewalk’s having a difficult day

-

laying there 

eyes closed

coughing crimson

-

a small bullet-hole trickling life mars his forehead

-

the young man who doesn’t look too young

runs his eyes over this man

with a shaved head wearing all blue

-

and the crying women surrounding him

sporting more gold than a pawn broker

-

feeling shame

because he doesn’t feel much

-

after 

-

he climbs back into the car

and the friend asks

“what happened?”

-

“he got shot in the head”

-

“why?”

-

“i imagine he made some poor life choices”

he conjectures

-

they drive on

-

as he thinks about the fireworks not far off

and the man stretched out on the concrete

who won’t enjoy them*

*

*hours later he walks back

to the spot the unpleasantness occurred

-

the street’s calm

people are barbecuing

-

the only piece of the scene remaining

a few spots of blood on the asphalt

-

the young man who doesn’t look too young

stares at the reddish spots

re-realizing life stops for no one in this city

-

even when life is lost

-

and he’d better make a big one

because it’ll happen with or without him*

*

*the fourth of july continues

he watches friends play dice 

because he’s broke

-

fires stares at stunning women

working up the nerve to chat with a few

-

and as the end of the night sneaks closer

-

he rides shotgun in a friend’s el camino

listening to funk coursing through it’s speakers

hand out the window feeling the wind

-

the sunset drenches the skyline in orange and pink

above the brooklyn queens expressway

a few fireworks exploding in it

-

and the friend turns to him

speaking in a warm tone

“how you feeling my man”

-

the young man who doesn’t look too young

replies in a soft voice

-

“proud to be an american”

-

and blows a kiss towards heaven.*

*

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we defaced some artwork from hand of glory tattoo (on 429 7th ave between 14th st and 15th st) – m4w – 26 (williamsburg, borough of lost boys)

 *

-content-

*by someone trying to not over-aspire*

(frankie leone, just a man)

*

*she lives in the ghetto. church ave. last stop off the g train. her place is down an alley carpeted in cracked concrete and up a flight of narrow stairs.

the two puntable dogs scurrying around the floor irritate me. probably because they lick shoes. i joke about taking them to prospect park to release them into the wild. she doesn’t laugh. i realize the comment wasn’t funny.

an apology’s offered. she assures me she doesn’t care. i relax.

she seems genuine.*

*

*they’re green.

no.

they’re jade. wonderfully large. always sleepy. they move slow. i doubt a hand-grenade could panic them.

her vision’s terrible and she’s out of contacts. the glasses shrink them to marbles. a tragedy.

it’s after eleven pm. her bedroom’s small. i ask her to take them off.*

*

*her teeth are jenky. i like that.

once she told me both her parents got braces in their forties. they felt their children never needed them though.

“they’re adult children,” she’d said quitely.

there’s never detectable anger in her voice.*

*

*touching her hair’s relaxing. it falls below her shoulders and is almost black. bangs like bettie page’s, only thicker, fall into her face.

whenever we finish she brushes it.

she can’t weigh more than ninety-five pounds dripping moist, which she is.*

*

*i’m a sucker for sublime features and she likes it rough.

no.

she likes it brutal.

i give her what she wants.*

*

*a latina mermaid’s freshly tattooed on her outer thigh. a banner reading “brooklyn” flows through the image.*

*

*i always arrive in her.

or on her.

it lands across the new tattoo. “sorry baby girl,” i say breathlessly.

her smile’s listless.

“it’s ok sexy. brooklyn mermaids get pregnant that way though.”*

*

*a black and white photograph leans against her vanity mirror. it’s of a young bob dylan.

a length of light yellow ribbon’s pinned to the ceiling. a deceased rose is tied to it.

the flower dangles stoically. i ask about it. per usual her voice is almost a whisper.

“my ex put it there. i’m too short to get it down. will you?”

“do you really want me to,” i ask, “it’s interesting.”

we saturate in a quick quiet before i proceed, “and one of the only two decorations in this room.”

the conversation doesn’t continue. a scented votive flickers next to the bed. the supermarket-bought candlelight looks good on her.

naked, she takes a drag off an american spirit.*

*

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share button below.)

*


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