Monthly Archives: August 2011

you gave my scrupals a light at le souk harem (on 510 la guardia place between houston and broadway) – 26 (williamsburg, borough of lost boys)

*

-arson-

*by someone who’s restrung his fiddle*

(frankie leone, just a man)

*

*her legs are long enough

to scorch pure intentions

-

in my favorite ways

-

they’re covered in nylon cobwebs

ripped in the right places

-

screaming sirens

through my thoughts

-

while i stare

at the slim tinder of her body

-

and pull up the fire escape*

*

*bleach blonde ringlets

caution from her head

-

while the beauty of an angular face

fuels charcoal-lined eyes

-

that offer my brand of crazy

and spark it for me*

*

*i grab her

-

but even if we wanted to run

down this block of condemned buildings

from collapsing reflections

-

i wouldn’t take either of us to safety

-

so i simply help

toss flaming moments

into stacks of newspapers

-

surrounding tonight’s events

-

my fingers curling around her throat

to preface a police bulletin

written in sex

-

while we kiss with desperation

branded through sizzling bodies

with excited breath*

*

*she doesn’t care what we engulf

because she’s tired of living in ashes

-

of extinguished yesterdays

-

participating in our inferno with gusto

grasping and gasping with enthusiasm

-

as we dance to melodies of dying smoke alarms*

*

*we incinerate each other

rapidly

brutally

ruthlessly

-

cooking away

prisons of thought

in mere minutes

-

our entire city burning violently*

*

*it’s in these writhing coals

of this bitter-sweet apple

curtained in flame

-

that we give each other peace.*

*

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we had a moment where i was born [at beth israel medical center on 286 1st ave (between 15th and 16th)] – 26 (williamsburg, borough of lost boys)

*

-syphilis-

*by someone who learns the hard way*

(frankie leone, just a man)

*

*be gentle with razors.

use enough shaving cream and moisturizer too.*

*

*it isn’t working out. she knows it. i know it. we’ve talked and set boundaries.

tires of surrender which could carry us to romantic progress are nestled in a rut conversation can’t level. whenever we move forward they blow out in post midnight pot holes of loneliness, fear, or drunkenness.

a.m. text messages help us find comfort in each others’ bodies. the day after’s never easy. new york isn’t a city where people line up to help strangers with car trouble.

like every night our minds drive on this street tonight feels different. 

 she’s calling. it’d be soothing to hear her voice. i think. pressing the phone to my ear i resolve to not spend a week stranded along a west side highway of regret.

“you filthy son of a bitch. if i have herpes i’ll fucking end you.”

her tone sounds unhappy.*

*

*i’m sitting on my building’s roof feeling sorry for myself when she calls. now i’m doing it even more effectively. panic gives self pity an accelerated edge. i unbutton my levis to examine the accused.

after minutes of scrutiny something presents itself.

enlisting internet help seems logical. i walk downstairs to my crime scene and stare at photos of lesions, warts, and chancres on my laptop’s screen. there are resemblances in every photo illustrating every ailment acquired through fun mistakes.

terror.

a viral game over blankets my consciousness.  flowery notes followed by dives from roofs flicker in my brain. rational thought calls me a drama queen.

i opt for a trip to the emergency room.*

*

*i was born in the east village’s beth israel hospital. in the waiting room i feel odd this is the first return i remember.

two well-dressed gay men and a morbidly obese jamaican woman keep me company. we don’t speak but the woman breaks our silence with intermittent screaming. this doesn’t bother me.

will smith’s “hancock” plays on a television. it’s fastened in a cage high on the wall. the entire film, with commercials, finishes before i’m called back to be seen.*

*

*the nurse’s arms are thick. they look strong. i unbutton my jeans again. her eyes scan with simultaneous disinterest and thoroughness.

she gives a diagnosis in a firm voice.

“isn’t genital warts. there’d be more of ‘em. isn’t herpes either. you’d have screamed in pain when i touched it. if anything it’s a syphilis chancre.”

“thank the fucking lord,” i exclaim.

i try to hug her but she slaps away my arms with two efficient strikes. they sting.

“hands off,” she warns and continues, “lab’s backed up. we won’t have blood results to know for sure ’til next week. want the penicillin shot now anyway?”

“god yes.”

“it’s a huge syringe filled with a glue-like substance. another nurse’ll inject it into your glutes. it’ll hurt. we’re short-staffed tonight so you’ll be waiting a few more minutes,” she states with the detachment of a butcher repeating an order.

“thank you so much,” i say.

she turns toward the door.

“use protection kid. there’re sicker people in this hospital than you.”

with a soft click it closes behind her.*

*

*a half hour later a male nurse gives the shot. he wants to get better acquainted while administering it.

“do you work out at a ymca or an equinox sort of place?”

“neither,” i answer.

our conversation doesn’t go further.

after finishing he asks, “want a second opinion on your chancre?”

“ok.”

i unbutton one last time. he looks and laughs. i don’t appreciate this.

“what’s funny,” i demand.

“that’s a razor bump dude.”*

*

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you got uncomfortable when i carved my name on the wall at john’s pizzeria (at 278 bleecker street between 6th and 7th ave) – 26 (williamsburg, borough of lost boys)

*

-it ends in a vowel-

*by someone whose name’s on his birth certificate,

not created for the stage, pen, or reinvention of self*

(frankie leone, just a man)

*

*”you know, you’re not really white”

 -

“what’s up you fucking tomato”

-

“what’s with your middle name, you must be a half-breed”

-

“hey it’s frankie “the don” leone”

-

“i’m taiwanese, i can’t cook pasta like that you guinea”

 -

“i can’t do that, i’m not a greasy gangster like you “

-

“she’s got hair on her face, like every italian woman”

 -

“here he comes, repping the mafia punk rockers”

-

“you’ve got a rugged, handsome, southern-italian, and peasant-like face”

 -

“get out of here you dego-wop bastard”

-

“leone, like the godfather”

 -

“do you know what bah fongul means”

 -

“teach me how to say forget-about-it like they do in donnie brasco “

 -

“nice name, you seen casino”

 -

“is your dad in the mafia”

-

“do you have hair on your back”*

*

*hair shaving

pasta eating

throat slicing

neanderthal speaking

money stealing

and with racially impure features

 -

but still (arguably) white christians

-

so it’s ok to make comments

if you think we’re tight

 -

no worries

i’ll embrace the stereotype

it’s a good gimmick

-

but I’ll get irritated

when it backfires

 -

so let’s sit down

and pour canned classico

over cheap c-town brand pasta

 -

then you can say

a real hairy chested italian

 -

from a neighborhood

where wife-beaters and jogging suits

are hipper than skinny jeans and fedoras

 -

made you dinner

and the pasta was al-dente.*

*

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*


we shot dice at east river state park (on kent avenue between n 7th st and n 10th st) – 26 (williamsburg, borough of lost boys)

*

-dice-

*by someone losing the strength

to lift them*

(frankie leone, just a man)

*

*he walks out of the water.

his clothes drip. close-fitting jeans, wife-beater, hole-filled shoes, and a bandanna folded thick over his brow. i recognize them- they’re all mine.

after he sits down on the bench next to me i look into his blind eyes. the irises and pupils are missing. they make him impossible to trust. 

i breathe,  “you’re late.”

“that’s your opinion,” he replies in a familiar voice. it’s almost a whisper but impossible to not recognize. i’ve felt its vibrations my whole life.

“where were you,” i ask.

“with another gambling man in manhattan,” he shuffles the topic, “your threads are pretty casual for the occasion aren’t they?”

his face has no expression. it looks a lot like mine. i’ve never liked it.

“how was the last guy dressed?”

“a lot like himself,” he answers.

i press forward.

“are we going to talk fashion until sunrise?”

“no pleasantries? not one drink or dance first?”

“this a business relationship. we can’t dance anymore.”

a smirk breaks through his unpretty features.

“sure about that?”

“there’s never music in east river park this time of night regardless.”

“the music plays when i tell it too,” he shoots back.

“that’s your opinion,” i respond.

tense quiet soaks into us before he picks up again.

“isn’t the first time you’ve skipped foreplay. it’s your prerogative if you want to try barreling right in.”

opening his bag he gestures towards the skyline and continues, “sublime isn’t it? always makes a special kind of promise from brooklyn. a dangerous one.”

“or tells a special kind of lie. a sexy one,” i contradict.

“i’ve heard them say that too,” he says drawing out a faded canvas pouch.

three dice spill from it and thud onto the ground. they’re too big and heavy to be casino dice. a gambler would need two hands to roll all three. the corroded metal they’re cast out of probably isn’t regulation either.

leaning forward i notice where dots should be are tips of .45 caliber bullets and caps of 25g syringes. i read the letters etched on the die’s upward faces- “colt automatic model” and “microlance hypodermic needles.”

an impressive attempt to ruffle me off my game.

“now i get why you didn’t take the l train.”

he winks a sightless eye and grins.

“needed a dip to clear my head anyways. found the materials next to crab traps. shame you didn’t keep them. you don’t mask your fear as honestly these days.”

i breathe deep and reply, “couldn’t afford them anymore. you’d know. you were my running partner while i spent everything in me.”

“what makes you think you can afford the veils you have now?”

i don’t answer.

“can you afford tonight’s stakes?”

he isn’t asking out of consideration.

ignoring the question i proceed, “find a craps table at the bottom of the river too?”

“you know cee-lo’s my game. this might be the burg, but it’s technically brooklyn.”

we start pitching.*

*

*it’s a long night. they always are. whether i’m waiting for him or we actually play. i can’t recall the last time i wasn’t doing one or the other.

tonight’s game’s finished. i only rolled four-five-sixes and there’s no double or nothing in games like ours. for the first time he has nothing to say. it’s been quiet over a minute.

this shouts he’s enraged.

i’m enjoying the silence but ruin it to whisper, “bring my winnings?”

his teeth are clamped in fury. i see his jaw muscles bulging.

they pry apart long enough to say, “how’d you win? even you know the dice are always loaded. you practically shave them for me.”

“did you bring my winnings,” i repeat.

“how’d you win?”

i doubt he’ll pay out until i answer.

“i stopped caring if you beat me,” i tell him.

despair dominates his movements. he raises his tattooed arms and the moonlight shows we have the same taste in artists and designs. his hands cup my ear.

the pot’s delivered at a softer volume than his normal bantering.

“you don’t have to play anymore. you never did.”

after he draws away i see tears coursing down his face. i lean back to watch him.

i don’t want to forget the night i made the devil cry.*

*

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at the sugar shack on far rockaway beach (at 2 roxbury ave) i saw your stare through those shades – 26 (williamsburg, borough of lost boys)

*

-impure thought-

*by someone who’s a sucker

for good poison*

(frankie leone, just a man)

*

*they’re candy flavored,

my cyanide fantasies

-

without cellulite

giving off aromas of wet latex

feeling tighter than virgins

-

they cut me like hand cuffs

and years circling a public bathroom bowl

-

they’ll walk with jaded grace

but kiss with naive energy

-

their body odor exciting me

while my feigned disinterest

-

sizzles my soul

-

so when our world blinks

long enough

-

we might do what we have to

-

to dance with these devils

off the private beach

of my consciousness.*

*

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*


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