Monthly Archives: June 2011

the bar stool wobbled and you said, “i need to move to brooklyn,” at sophies (on 507 e 5th street and avenue a) – 26 (williamsburg, borough of lost boys)

*

-odds and ends-

*by someone considering a moving sale*

(frankie leone, just a man)

*

*a bottle of disappearing ink

stands in a well-lit garage

-

camel cigarette dangling from her lips

studded belt low on her hips

-

a malfunctioning compass

stands next to her

gripping her slim waist

-

the clock starts to grand mall seizure

and she begins to fade*

*

*a worn shirt with lace trim

sprayed with a bit of perfume

bears a stain almost undetectable

-

smiling through pain

also unseen by untrained eyes

-

but a dried tear on a ripped sleeve knows

studying her as they sit stoically in a dive

-

watching her leave

as they go nowhere together

on worn bar stools*

*

*a pair of ray-ban wayfarers

looks comfortable on an expensive couch

-

surrounded by the rich, famous, and hopeful

seeming to belong

-

sprawled opposite’s

a life-preserver

who knows he doesn’t

-

she breathes sex out her nostrils

sniffling disinterest out her irises

-

when this lover obstructs her view

-

right before he realizes

no one fell overboard*

*

*a cookie jar walks with raw-sugar bounce

sheen hair falling around her face

-

her eyes promising absolutely nothing

but simultaneously everything

-

in the mind of an unmade bed

in a poorly heated loft

needing a cat

-

who feels confused regret

remembering

the softness of her cheap cotton hoodie

-

during embraces she’ll forget

when her subway car bumps and grinds

-

out of his borough of lost boys

back to her island of broken promises*

*

*a tarnished tiara’s unconcerned

with perceptions of others

-

with a few coins in her stretch jean pockets

and red blood coursing through a petite body

-

a name on the guest list

looks at her awe-struck

but remains mute and paralyzed

-

postured against a graffiti covered wall

-

watching her walk away

in the afternoon sun

through mirrored shades*

*

*a garter belt gun

above legs firing heart palpitations

-

acts impure in an unimpressive vehicle

-

with an old issue of playboy

from a drawer long unopened

-

feeling a different kind of ecstasy than him

-

secure with private knowledge

she’s a sunset almost over

-

exuding silky moans

during pulls of her hair

and kisses on her neck.*

*

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i dug your new threads (on 132 2nd ave and st. marks place) – 26 (williamsburg, borough of lost boys)

*

-“the rain man”-

second part to “-promoter-“

*by someone planning to get a netflix account*

(frankie leone, just a man)

*

*i purchased less-than-legal goods more than once in yesteryears. sometimes i patronized a vendor introduced to me as ‘the rain man.’

he stood on his block year round making a living. a boxy rain coat always hung over his torso. he wasn’t burdened by mental illness or deficiency. when he claimed the street with a shout no one dismissed him as crazy.

everyone in his neighborhood knew why he wore the rain coat- under it was a sawed off shotgun. double barreled. twelve gauge.

he wasn’t modest about this artillery. flamboyant would be more accurate. part of his business was everyone knowing that part of his business.

once i asked ‘the rain man,’ “wouldn’t something smaller make more sense?”

“ain’t ’bout the kind of sense you thinkin’ on. think i tote this heavy-ass bitch for fun? wear a damn rain coat year round cause it look fresh? hell no. she good for bidness. helps chumps pay attention.”

i didn’t understand. he sensed this and tried again.

“know ’bout vanna white? wheel of fortune bitch? why you think that snow bunny’s turnin’ letters?”

i understood.*

*

*stepping onto 10th ave between 17th and 18th i notice a strange feeling in my mouth and lips. throat too. the taste isn’t unusual.  just a vaguely familiar sensation. numbness.

i’m disgusted, mostly with myself, as i realize the cause.

cocaine or heroin’s been part of her night’s substance regiment. she’s a good kisser. still, i make a mental note to avoid a phone number exchange. breathing deep i feel bass pulse through the club’s doors.

a lanky frame sachets out of the crowd of smoking people. the promoter. his voice sounds like soiled silk glittered with gay mannerisms. i’ve always enjoyed it.

he asks, “how’re we doing beb?”

“i’m getting by.”

“aw. frankie, such a dark sensitive soul. brighten up,” he says.

his words hit the wrong spots. i get plastic. a smile airbrushes itself across my face.

“i’ll do what i can for you. thanks for another invite sugar.”

“of course. how could i not have the hard core bukowski boy of brooklyn at my table?”

this characterization embarrasses me. it also massages my ego. at least he’s not introducing me like that. not now. i leave it alone.

“how’s everything with you?”

“you know how it goes gorgeous. these idiots take forever to get new bottles to the table. the coke-dealer’s always late. my friends leave. everyone in this town’s unreliable. i’m going to skull-fuck some bitches. you’ll see. get some drinks?”

“haven’t had a drink in years.”

“i forgot you don’t drink. i love that about you. i have to ask- why do you come to my parties?”

he giggles.

“i’m hooked on beautiful people, the appearance of glamour…”

he cuts me off.

“who isn’t?”

he lights a cigarette. marlboro light 100.

“and i hate myself,” i finish.

with gusto he pulls on the marlboro while nodding his head. through a cloudy exhale the corners of his mouth slide almost to his ears.

“you’re right where you should be beb. papa’ll love you if you can’t love yourself.”

i force a laugh before changing the subject.

“i made out with another one of your kids. she numbed out my mouth.”

his smile fades. frustration dominates his tone.

“which one?”

“the pretty skinny young-looking one.”

“are you autistic? that’s all of them. listen to me- slow down your perversion with my friends.”

i raise my eyebrow but don’t respond.

he continues, “try to wrap your little mind around this- i get them young to earn loyalty. nineteen, twenty, twenty-one, twenty-two. they grow with me. it’s my career. there’s lots of divas in there. you start drama with your smooching they might not show up. that’s wasted time and effort for me.”

this registers.

i respond, “sounds familiar. like you’re leading a gang.”

“of course i am. how do you think this spectacle you enjoy so much happens? this is ‘gangs of new york’ in the clubs of chelsea and i’m bill the fucking butcher. do what you like tonight but if it happens again i’m trimming the fat you bitch.”

any trace of our previous moments’ theatrical affection is boroughs away.

my face betrays rage. his eyes are wide in anger. i look into them. his irises, already near-black, are covered by saucer-like pupils.

cocaine’s taken potential for fear from them.

noticing balled fists at my side his grin returns. he nods towards three enormous bouncers less than ten feet away. their bald heads shimmer in the street light.

he laughs. his voice shakes the shells from both barrels of my hands.

“all your tattoos and bad boy history mean nothing here.”

he breaks through another giggle before talking again.

“awww. the big man stands all by himself.”

it’s two-thirty a.m. and time to get some sleep. the bouncers lift the rope and i walk passed a row of waiting cabs towards the 8th ave l stop.*

*

*lady luck forced me into lifestyle changes long ago. business trips to ‘the rain man’ don’t coincide with them. i never returned to his block.

we saw each other years after my last visit though. at dallas bbq on 2nd ave. wearing a leather pelle pelle jacket he sat across from a woman eating a fried fish sandwich. didn’t see a point in being rude.

i walked over to say hello.

after skin deep ‘how you beens’ i asked, “no more rain coat?”

“nah, had to change up my style.”

“vanna white wasn’t worth the trouble?”

it took a second but he got the reference. his laughter was warm.

“nah player,” he answered.

we did ‘take-care good-to-see-yas’ before i walked back to my table.*

*

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the camera-phone-picture-bouquet i sent you was an arrangement out front greenpoint florist (on 703 manhattan ave between norman and meserole) – 26 (williamsburg, borough of lost boys)

*

-sixth grade-

*by someone who’s never let youth get in the way

of forming bad habits*

(frankie leone, just a man)

*

*she’s white

-

like snow, ivory

or cocaïne

-

a pretty enigma in my mind

-

i watch her and she knows it

-

amused*

*

*her hair’s black

like licorice, an autumn night

or smokers lungs

-

it’s unlikely she knows

how afraid i am

-

she’s short and fragile-looking

like crystal vases, old lace

or capsules of nitro-glycerin*

*

*i hoard enough courage

to give a birthday gift

i’d heard she’d like

-

a single white rose

-

terrified

-

i can’t look her in the eyes

or hear her voice

-

paralyzed

-

i pass it off to a friend

to give in my place

-

i watch

similar to the way i’ve watched

many times before

-

from across our middle school’s parking lot

-

my friend speaks to her

hands over the flower

and points to me

-

she smiles

-

bringing the rose under a delicate nose

waving to me, yelling “thank you”*

*

*we never speak

-

but under the afternoon sun

i have hope

-

and could easily

be blown away by the light breeze

-

blowing through

our middle school’s parking lot

this summer day.* 

*

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*


we learned what a rough day was speaking to a waiter at villa berulia (on east 34th street between park ave and lex) – 26 (williamsburg, borough of lost boys)

*

-tired-

*by someone who could use rest*

(frankie leone, just a man)

 *

*his bar’s beautiful.

the bar itself is oak and the lamps have been chosen carefully. still, it’s plain he doesn’t enjoy being here. work’s work.

i look at his nose. slightly hooked, croatian, not pretty. it’s a man’s nose. i sweep my eyes over the rest of him. an untrimmed beard covering his features betrays scars. despite his ratty skull cap and musky smell he doesn’t give the impression of a messy man.

he pours me a glass of water. we meet each others’ gazes without restraint or aggression. his irises are amber. the eyes they color don’t look tired.

they are tired.

“how you been,” i ask.

“ok.”

“yeah? doesn’t sound convincing.”

almost curt but not quite he responds, “i plan to drink today. not talk about feelings.”

“fair enough,” i answer his answer.

“nothing personal of course.”

“of course.”

he reciprocates the formality.

“how’ve you been?”

“getting by.”

“doesn’t sound too bad.”

i respond, “what’s the alternative?”

he gives soft notes of laughter.

“best point i ever heard.”

i shift the topic.

“how’s milos?”

milos is the bouncer and close friend. an intriguing sentinel three nights a week.

“trying to look out for him more lately.”

“he having a hard time?”

“no more than usual,” he says.

i think he wants to laugh again but can’t.

“why’re you worried?”

“he’s been a professional boxer, junky, and every other shade of good and bad. comes from a communist country on top of it. he’s seen and done too much. now he’s working the door of my bar.”

his tone of voice says patience for questions and small talk’s disintegrating. i don’t know what to say. experience has shown me the best thing to do when you don’t know what to say is say nothing.

he shakes his head.

“sorry. you’re young. you shouldn’t get it. let’s say this- when men get to milos and my age, when they’ve had lives like ours, they can give up. that’s a dark fuckin’ thing. we need to stick together.”

“he working tonight?”

“yeah.”

“i’m going to stop by and say hello,” i decide aloud.

“milos’d like that.”

his attention’s diverting to a gray-haired man at the bar. looks like he’s assessing whether the guy should be cut off. he drinks hard himself but has special disdain for those starting in the morning.

“take care of yourself man.”

“yeah,” he says distracted.*

*

*by night i forget milos is sitting outside the bar on the corner of north 6th street and bedford ave. my self-obsession’s intensified by a purgatorial new york day.

lucky thing i walk past his corner on my way home from the subway. my commitment’s honored accidentally.

he sees me first from his perch on a stool and calls out. his voice shocks me back into the world. i walk towards him.

his skin has a just-showered look. a dress shirt’s rolled up thick forearms revealing his tattoos. some look like they weren’t done in the free world. his nose has been broken a few times.

he looks good. 

the first time i met him he had my respect without saying anything. i definitely wouldn’t talk shit if he told me i couldn’t come into the bar. he’s tough enough to not care if you believe he is.

or if you believe you are.

“how you,” his accented voice says.

we shake hands. it feels like it means something- a refreshing change.

“one of those days,” i say looking around the street bustling with people in fashionable clothing.

i keep complaining, “on days like this all this doesn’t seem real. none of these pretty people. this nice bar. sometimes not even these streets.”

he holds a cigarette. smiling he takes an easy drag.

“i know what you mean. i feel this all time. come have drink?”

“i quit drinking years ago. you know that.”

“i forget. we stay and drink these streets in then.”

he takes another focused pull on his cigarette. i draw in a deep breath.

“today the asphalt’s going down like a broken promise,” i say.

his laugh somehow sounds somber. “poet too eh? what you mean broken promise? you americans. such children. a man’s promised nothing.”

i want to argue nothing but realize i’ve gone to the dark side. my speech will only jack-hammer our evening’s mood more.

“you know i love seeing ya milos but i got to get some rest.”

“yes. i see it on your face. good seeing you too. see you again soon, no?”

“course. unless you do something dumb like give up,” i say without thought.

he smirks.

“not me. even if blinded by own blood and fighting in dark it changes nothing. i fight to end.”

“do me a favor milos?”

“sure. what this favor?”

“stay out of the dark.”

his smirk transitions back to a smile.

“i try. have good night. you stay out of dark too.”

“i’ll do what i can.”

“make sure you do no less and no more.”

“good night.”

i return his smile knowing we’ll both be ok. we’re just tired.*

*

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you laughed when i said, “let’s wait two hours to eat the hippest frittata in willyburg,” at egg (on 135 n 5th street between bedford and berry) – 26 (williamsburg, borough of lost boys)

*

new short story coming soon

*

-i remember-

*by someone who remembers the past

to repeat it in a grander fashion*

(frankie leone, just a man)

*

*i remember buying v*** dinner

 -

she didn’t shave her legs

and told the mean truth*

*

*i remember j***

 -

who cut his own throat

with a knife inside a marine’s

sterling silver money clip

 -

but lived to tell me about it

sitting with the other white boys

-

smoking together in the yard*

*

*i remember m*******

 -

introducing me to her friends

as the first guy to fuck her in the ass*

*

*i remember s****

 -

giving me ten bucks

on a decent twenty-bag

-

finally paying for his own shit*

*

 *i remember momma

 -

telling me she misses

having someone to hug at night*

*

*i remember smacking g***

 -

across the face

for being ungrateful

i pulled a blade on f*****

 -

to defend him*

*

*i remember a**** didn’t care

 -

when i gave her gifts

and how it hurt most

 -

because i knew she wouldn’t

before i gave them*

 *

*i remember skinheads

 -

telling me to put out my marlboro

in the back of cbgb’s

 -

and how gas face

made sure i didn’t have to*

*

*i remember tattooing t****

on the kitchen counter

 -

how he tried to make me

feel awkward by coming onto me

 -

which didn’t work

the way he wanted.*

 *

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*


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