Monthly Archives: May 2011

you won our brawl in rivington 151 (on 151 rivington between clinton and suffolk) – 26 (williamsburg, borough of lost boys)

*

-jig-saw puzzle hatred-

*by someone who should’ve burned the pieces long ago*

(frankie leone, just a man)

*

*her smiles are skinny jeans fresh out the dryer

 -

but those clear eyes tired walks in the rain

 -

because they’re not visible

when she looks away

 -

with disinterest i suspect’s planned

 -

making only one change

in the content of her words

 -

the replacement of “you” with “him”*

*

*she tells the truth

like an old jig-saw puzzle

 -

pieces lost, bent, misplaced

thrown away, or hidden

 -

and i resent her ability to

show a marble face

 -

feeling anguish touching the skin

covering my own

 -

textured like inexpensive sand-paper *

*

*darwin would get an erection

and/or die in terror

 -

at her presentation of emotional evolution

 -

thoughtful phrasing ensures

the hammer of social damnation

falls on an empty chamber at the end of her turn

 -

after she convinces me

to play rigged russian roulette

 -

looking straight into my green eyes as

i pull the trigger of her saturday night special*

*

*the blast of her voice usually sounds mature*

*

*an individual with the ability to

pull up the rope ladder of emotion

 -

is more jarring to this man

than any haymaker

 -

she smiles from her tree-house

and i look up for hope from a grassless ground

 -

my body feeling the blow of indifference

like a mack truck

 -

i’ve looked down on the beaten

and laid bleeding on similar concrete

 -

my knuckles bloodied or body broken

after brawling a truth

 -

but she’s the first to level me with a smile

and calmly spoken sentence*

*

 *exposed skin on her face, neck, and shoulders

makes an offer to minds of many men

in this crowded room filled with mistake-inspiring music

 -

her dancing alone

unconcerned with all these guests

 -

my half-smile spreads

seeing a different proposition

 -

before stepping outside to inhale dark air

and exhale grayness

 -

for the first time

staring at moonless skies

i see an answer in this one’s blank features

 -

don’t look here.*

*

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*


at mars bar (on 25 east 1st street between 2nd ave and bowery) you said, “no respectable outlaw comes here anymore.” – 26 (williamsburg, borough of lost boys)

*

-tough guy-

*by someone who’s never seen a guinea cowboy*

(frankie leone)

*

*hollywood fabricates glimpses of tough guys.

even the conjured pain of convincing actors can’t be expressed well with words. the thudding fist, song of a barrel, or introduction of a knife articulates it best. the loathing of their existence is clearest while their agony’s shared with others- as they kill more of themselves.

directors show sublime journeys of these men. the romance of their phantoms has marked me forever. still, i hate them for their lies of omission. not one master of the screen lets on where the pursuit of tough ends for those who survive it. they never show how a man knows he’s reached this imaginary place.

bleeding memories of avenues and alleyways aren’t welcome mats outside its door. scars or passed friends don’t equate to cards validating membership.  one gets there when the camera crew of other’s eyes are closed.

it’s not cinematic.*

*

*the fight’s over and it wasn’t much of one. more accurately- it wasn’t one. even a fifteen-year-old who’s spent the past three years in schools for delinquent youth’s no match for five kids three years his senior.

they shuffle towards the car double-parked where they spotted me. i’m not getting up anytime soon. the police aren’t coming. they take their time getting in.

as the car drives off i watch the rear window. all of them except the driver look at me. their mouths aren’t moving in speech. i expect their faces to smile or laugh. they don’t.

returning their stares hatred burns and throbs inside. the infection rots my guts, brain, and heart. i taste the most rancid flavor i’ve ever known. injuries from the beating aren’t comfortable either.

no posse materializes around me. i don’t call on any saint or devil for vengeance. just make myself a silent promise-

those faces watching me will look more concerned next time they see mine.*

*

“what you need guns n’ roses,” he asks nodding his chin upwards.

i assume the “guns n’ roses” bit is a joke about how i’m dressed. the guy he stands with by the public rest room in tompkins park doesn’t speak. they’re both wearing fitted mets caps with intact stickers.

they don’t look like baseball fans.

i scrutinize the right hand dangling at his side. he notices. from his wrist to the nail of his pointer is a column of uppercase letters spelling, “power of god.” this is the guy. he probably doesn’t want to be friends so i get to the point.

i make a fast gesture with my fingers. “caliche said you’d hook it up. my name’s frankie.”

“frankie huh? didn’t know my cousin be down wit’ rock and roll white boys. i’ma holla at him to make sure you legit. like a background check. if he say you cool i’ll be here tuesdee this time. caliche’s mans or not, you bring five-oh up in here somebody migh’ leave in cuffs but you ain’t leavin’ at all.”

i nod. “see you tuesday.”*

*

*from the park we don’t start a thrilling journey to a bat man cave. we walk on the street in silence. hazel searchlights in his eye sockets sweep the streets.

the trip ends at the bottom of a stairwell on avenue c. no heavy machine guns or gold-plated forty-fives hang on the walls. the dark basement reeks of reality. i don’t like the smell.

a mop-bucket filled with rags is in the corner. he kneels beside it and starts removing rag-wrapped bundles. his eyes don’t leave me. “you’s never had a strap before has you?”

“i have.”

“yeah ok,” he dismisses. “what you tryin’ to get into? sumthin’ small to bust shots at cans wit’ your boys an’ impress shorties righ’?”

i resent his words. “you’re the professional. show me something.”

“what kind of paper you workin’ wit’?”

“fifty bucks.”

his face clenches. torrents of angry spanish spew from his mouth. it’s not my language but i understand the expletives. “caliche gone get his ass whooped for this. trust and believe maricone. i’m a bidness man. how dare you clowns waste mah time coming at me wit’ chump change? i look like k mart to you nigga?”

i don’t say anything. he sighs and digs to the bottom of the bucket for a bundle. “fifty,” he say and passes it into my hands. “bitch is a three-eighty. bullets run a dolla a-piece.”

i unwrap it. there’s discoloration all over the cylinder and short barrel. someone’s filed down the back of the hammer. old tape’s wrapped around the handle and trigger. i don’t see a safety.

it looks like murder.*

*

*”i saw your cousin.”

“i heard,” he says pointing to his busted lip.

“sorry. you know i’m just as broke as you.”

“it’s all good. i’m not trippin’. let’s see it.”

i reach into my jacket pocket and hand it to him. his laughter speed bags my ego.

“you got played. my cuz musta boosted this from some wild west museum. shit’s probly got more bodies on it then a funeral parlor. kk and his team’s gone laugh their asses off if you go see ‘em wit’ this.”

he hands it back and i point my six shooter at his face. i think i’m joking.

“how funny is it?”

his tone changes. “i’m just playin’. be easy killer.”*

*

*olde english 800 isn’t meant to be sipped. when its warm gagging becomes part of the experience. unless of course someone’s very dedicated to malt liquor. i’m not there yet.

the forty’s gone in under ten minutes. cool night air helps it go down. the city warps into somewhere more comfortable while i stare at the east river from my spot at the end of houston.

i turn the cheap pistol in my hands. it’s so ugly and little. doesn’t seem like something that should exercise the “power of god.”

i remember something momma said- “only men with small dicks feel like they need to keep a gun in their pants.”

i laugh to myself and remember a kid from my neighborhood doing time.

he’s not much older than me. shot some kid in some place for some reason. something about a girl. i see his mom at the grocery. she smiles at me. it’s not the same smile i remember before he got put away. might just be in my mind though.

i look at brooklyn. then the water. my pitching arm goes to work. the throw’s kind of weak. i watch its arc into the water. should’ve been a little higher.

looks like tough’s still a few years away.*

*

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*


we agreed the turkey’s nest tavern (on 94 bedford ave and north 12th street) is a great spot for hopelessness – 26 (williamsburg, borough of lost boys)

*

-pour a little out for-

*by someone looking at the same night sky as you

for different answers*

(frankie leone, just a man)

 *

*she seems like she’s somewhere else

 -

sitting quietly

but not nervously

a few feet from where i’m sprawled

 -

bleach-blonde hair falls around her face

dark roots smirk from her scalp

 -

worn clothes with many tears

repaired by punk rock patches

hug her close

 -

allowing black tattoos

to peek out frayed sleeves

when they recess

 -

not a girl or an adult

but definitely a woman

 -

she holds a plastic water-bottle

filled with a mixture of

 -

cranberry juice and malt liquor

 -

staring with polite disinterest

around the small bedroom

 -

my friends

acquaintances

and i lounge in

 -

overpriced new york bought cigarettes

burning away in our hands*

*

*when lady luck pours out half the spirits

in the windows to a soul she often does

 -

with chilled malice

 -

and i know that in between tragedies

the night sky is the only place to look

 -

for forgiveness

for mercy

for pity

for answers

 -

and a moon staring back at draining eyes

never has any of these things to offer*

*

*i see her eyes

they’re blue-green and half-empty

 -

but it’s possible i’m wrong

 -

the case more often than not

-

they could be half-full

-

for a few moments i want

to ask what they’ve seen

 -

before deciding against it

 -

because i’m confident i already know*

*

*looking at her

i wonder how bright

the moon is this chilly night

 -

trying to stifle self-consciousness

then nervousness overwhelms me

 -

re-remembering any grown-up

can tell when a rowdy kid

fills half-empty bottles of booze

 -

with water.*

*

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*


you had indigestion at tammany hall (on 152 orchard street between rivington and stanton) – 26 (williamsburg, borough of lost boys)

*

-promoter-

*by someone who can’t resist a decent party*

(frankie leone, just a man)

*

*he makes an honest enough living hustling a sexy lie.

i’m trying to score.*

*

*his hair’s shaggy. black clothing grips his frame. watching his unsteady stance on the sidewalk of orchard street i’m reminded of a chic jack the pumpkin king. we’re both on the same block but this lanky figure’s swaying  in a different night than me.

i read his face. it isn’t a complaint form reporting a rough day. it’s a police bulletin on a brutal month. regardless, jealousy stagnates my thoughts. he’s still an exceedingly pretty man.

his hands occupy themselves. the left’s operating a marlboro light 100. it burns frantically. the pointer and thumb of the right clamp the bridge of his nose. i’m grateful i’m not close enough to hear his wet inhales.

he hasn’t seen my friends and me walking towards him. joy masks his features after dark eyes find us. we hear words vibrating with enthusiasm.

“frankie! what’s up beb? who’re your friends? i’m…”

the introduction stops and his expression goes blank. before moving an extended hand to his mouth he apologizes, “sorry i’m going to puke.”

six feet and three inches of him scurry toward the curb to feed the asphalt a brownish geyser. time syrups while i anticipate the coming awkwardness. even if a clock won’t agree the process seems to last minutes.

wiping his mouth with the back of his hand he says, “i’m so sorry. this is humiliating. it’s the heroin. i’ll be fine though. the coke should kick in soon. i’m really embarrassed.”

i fear my friends aren’t in the mood for dinner, drinks, and dancing anymore. even if it’s all free and the professionally beautiful are decor.

blasts of silence feel like a weekend in a holding cell. my friends turn wide eyes onto me and one another.

i strain a smile and force a laugh.

and keep laughing until it avalanches. authenticity buries awkwardness as our group warps its sense of humor for the occasion.

a joyous mask mutinies over a pained expression again. his voice is saturated in gratitude. “let’s get in there and party!”

lips sliding into a casual smirk, a three hundred pound earpiece and suit lifts the rope.*

*


at 3rd ward (on 195 morgan between stagg st and meadow st) you helped me become fiscally responsible – 26 (williamsburg, borough of lost boys)

*

-for dear life-

*by someone too comfortable with discomfort*

(frankie leone, just a man)

*

*she’s a luxurious idea

i couldn’t afford from the start

 -

so the rent money’s gone and

grocery money’s a distant memory

-

in the bathroom mirror i see ribs

while i smile, dreaming into starvation

 -

dreaming my expensive idea of her*

*

*i’d said i wanted to forget

i’d said i wanted the pain dulled

 -

i’d said these things with desperation

 -

and tragically they’re on their way

creeping into me

like english ivy through old brick

 -

and i don’t speak of the impending arrival

i don’t indicate my terror

 -

while my stomach growls

and an eviction notice yellows on the door *

*

*i hold on with my remaining strength

as my idea’s pried from my grip

 -

my idea of her

 -

trying with my usual desperation

for my usual tears

my cheek stays dry

 -

and i despair

because it’s time to live.*

*


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