Monthly Archives: September 2011

you threw a drink on me at dominie’s hoek (on 48-17 vernon boulevard between 48th and 49th avenue) – 26 (williamsburg, borough of lost boys)

*

-boxing-

*by a southpaw who still has a good right*

(frankie leone, just a man)

*

*happy childhood in a long island suburb.

blonde.

only wears abercrombie.

no piercing or tattoos.

teaches me how to punch her face without leaving a mark.*

*

*my bedroom has no windows.

red numerals of a clock radio glow onto us with sinister appropriateness. it provides enough light for me to line up my knuckles flat against her cheek bone and jaw.

she whispers, “draw them back a few inches and bring them down. your fist should land so the hit distributes across the centers of all four knuckles. hit me as hard as you like.”

we’re naked in a spooning position. she’s skinnier than i am. i like that. my left arm is wrapped around her body. it hugs her close.

i hit her.

“harder. i won’t break,” she says elevating her tone.

nervousness begins to tremor through me. i hit her again.

“harder. be a man.”

she means it. it feels more wrong because she’s so damn pretty.

my knuckles land against her face one last time. this one feels the way she wants. aqua eyes radiate ecstasy before they shut. she bites her bottom lip.

can’t say i get it. that doesn’t matter though- she does. we kiss slowly.*

*

*sometimes i eat non-breakfast burritos in the morning.

everyone has their thing.*

*

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you grabbed my hand and led me out of cielo (on 18 little west 12th st and 9th ave) whispering, “our reality will feel better than this fantasy.” – 26 (williamsburg borough of lost boys)

*

-night club-

*by someone who took a while

to get it*

(frankie leone, just a man)

*

*the gate keeper’s an old man

meticulously groomed

-

who’s seen too much

and knows he’ll see more

-

while pulling on a dunhill cigarette

he governs sentinels

who’ve surrendered autonomy

for the dollar sign

-

waving in the lost souls valuable

to a kingdom without values

-

as they anxiously wait in long lines

-

hoping to drink and dance away troubles

that’ll be there when the record stops

-

or they sober up*

*

*behind angular features

of a breath-taking face

-

an underestimated mind

knows why she’s employed

-

making more than a waiter earns in an entire shift

to walk one bottle of liquid currency on long legs

-

to someone with too much money

the right delusions

and just enough desperation*

*

*he herds the beautiful into plush booths

-

collecting taxes from

the blessing and curse

of their aesthetic

-

smiling into eyes with faux rolex teeth

kissing hands with imitation leather lips

and embracing shoulders with 10 karat warmth

-

this mad king of the blind governs

-

subjects who speak to him

as though he were a servant

-

pouring them drink after drink

-

and surveying his domain

through an ornate mask*

*

*hidden in a tiny world

inside a tiny world

he rotates grooved wax on spinning tables

-

controlling

the temperature of sound waves

coursing through the air

-

coming in and out of consciousness

that if it’s his will

varvatos-clothed lemmings will halt

-

or move faster towards the edge*

*

*their hips sway across the dance floor and

the beat overwhelms awkward conversations

-

these wealthy and hood rich

famous and notorious

hard and fast

soft and slow

-

chase the same illegible promise

on a hollow pursuit

-

to a light switch

or fractured end.*

*

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i remembered my love for brooklyn walking through prospect park with you. – 26 (williamsburg, borough of lost boys)

*

-knife fight-

*by someone who gets creative*

(frankie leone, just a man)

*

*i always feel like a dirt bag drifting towards unconsciousness post sex. they’re awake and very aware i’m falling asleep moments after.

i know what they’re thinking:

“he’s such a man.”*

*

*daylight and nudity betray my body’s been a few places. exhaustion pulls back curtains around my belief i’m the center of the universe.

i’ve dealt with a myriad of dysfunctional personalities working since sunrise in three different boroughs (biking nearly twenty miles) and still made half the money i think i deserve. tonight’s self pity feels justified.

it’s nearing eight in the evening and i’ve been at her place on caton ave and east 18th st about forty minutes. our plans for an informal hang out were made days ago.

the bitter-sweet apple’s been rough on her recently. i heard it in her voice on the phone. her room reflects the same. clothes litter the floor. sheets are balled up at the foot of her bed. there’s a broken open capsule of m.d.m.a. on the bedstand.

it hurts seeing her eyes look so beaten.*

*

*our skinny bodies screw.

i start to fall asleep. a wounded voice says, “baby, it’s only eight thirty.”

i’m consciously fucking up. i feel her disgusted green eyes while i fade out of reality.*

*

*i wake up at six and remember what went down. she’s still checked out. watching her sleep usually makes me happier about where i am. this morning guilt vibrates appropriately through my brain.

seems like a good time to clean up.

she doesn’t own a laundry bag so i fold clothes cluttering the floor and pile them. i move onto collecting delivery food bags and cans next. she wakes up to the percussion of cans and bottles being thrown into a plastic bag.

“what’re you doing? don’t worry about that, i’ll take care of it later.”

i ignore her and collect some scattered papers into a stack. she repeats herself.

“seriously, stop. i can clean my own room.”

i gesture to the drug paraphernalia on her bedstand, “need this empty capsule of molly?”

“what’s your problem?”

i don’t respond, just stare blankly.

she answers, “ugh, you’re so stubborn. no.”

i throw it in the trash bag. a blanket stretched across the floor begins to fold in my arms. she gives up and returns to her dreams.*

*

*breakfast is two egg sandwiches i buy from the bodega by the q stop. the panamanian woman who made them doesn’t speak english so both our orders are wrong. we’re used to this. after unwrapping them on her bedroom floor we’re pleased they’re right enough to be palatable.

she asks, “working this morning?”

“of course.”

i see disappointment in her expression. her face is beautiful. it has a unique round shape. her skin’s pale and clear. i don’t like to smudge it with unhappiness.

“what’re you doing?”

she responds, “probably hanging out here. i don’t work until twelve.”

“you mean you’re going to sleep the morning away in this windowless room? no way. walk with me through prospect park. i’ll walk to the g instead of taking the q.”

“you’re not my father. plus, it’ll take you twice the time.”

“i’m ok with that.”*

*

*the air in the park smells slow and safe. the emotion saturating the ground feels breathable. her shoulders look less weighted outside her bedroom.

she speaks to me.

“you used to fight a lot when you were younger right?”

“i’ve been in one or two,” i say smirking.

she laughs.

“right. well, right now i’m outmatched. i feel like i’m a little girl who’s never been in a fight and a much bigger older guy’s kicking my ass.”

“who’s the guy?”

she pauses to think.

“life i guess.”

it’s my turn to think.

eventually i say, “sounds like you need to change up your fighting style.”

her face smudges in a frown.

“everything seems insurmountable. i feel like i couldn’t ever hit hard or fast enough.”

“find a way to pull a knife.”

this sharpens her frown into a smile.

“what if i don’t have one?”

“then don’t wait for one to drop out of the sky. get creative. pick up a chair or bottle.”

it feels good to hear her laugh again. we’re reaching the edge of the park. the g train’s not far.

“thanks for cleaning my room,” she tells me after some silence.

“‘course baby. once a bartender told me a clean room makes for a cleaner mind.”

she doesn’t say anything back for a little while.

“thanks for forcing me out of my apartment.”

“didn’t mean to be forceful. just felt like i had to make an executive decision.”

we’re at the edge of the park and almost at goodbye.

“could you do me a favor?”

“sure thing. what do you want,” she asks.

“look around the park for a blade a little before going home?”*

*

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you warned me, “remember all this doesn’t suspend our humanity, ok?,” on the roof deck at le bain (at 848 washington st and west 14th) – 26 (williamsburg, borough of lost boys)

*

-one eye open-

*by someone followed only by the blind*

(frankie leone, just a man)

*

*i’m desperate to believe i’m the hustler

so end up being the last one to see 

-

i’m the hustled*

*

*the booty call’s an odd thing

-

arrogance blinds me

into thinking i’m taking a piece of them

-

with each toe-curling orgasm

-

so it’s a harsh surprise

searching the top of my dresser

-

months later

-

to find money they’ve planted

and my dignity missing*

*

*i’ve chased the myth of normalcy

through mundane beginnings

to cringe-worthy ends

-

but the most liberating thing i’ve seen

is the only people i know who aren’t fucked up

-

are ones i don’t know well*

*

*i’m not complicated as i’d like to believe

-

neither are you

or people you love and hate

-

our experience all vines

from the same simple template

-

the only variation is in details

-

i, and you, will only become fascinating

-

after realizing how similar we are

-

to each other

and everyone we know.*

*

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you had a bite of my chicken cutlet sandwich from north 5th deli (on 20 n5th street and kent avenue) – 26 (williamsburg, borough of lost boys)

*

-delivery boy-

*by someone with a “colorful” work history*

(frankie leone, just a man)

*

*no new york neighborhood boasts pure hopelessness. even the worst ones are cut with chances for gentrification. five to ten minutes by subway or bus and someone can find an organic salad.

there are cities where both sides of the tracks are the wrong ones. l.l. bean doesn’t send catalogues to any of the buildings unsolicited.

one of these is through the holland tunnel or over the george washington bridge. it’s a city that hasn’t recovered from riots decades and decades ago. its political system’s so broken a trillion dollars would pass through it like water in a sieve.

i’m talking about newark, new jersey.*

*

*the caddy i drive from age seventeen to nineteen idles in the daylight. i’ll total it in about a year. my eyes absorb the harshness of downtown newark while her and i wait in bucket seats for him.*

*

*he knows what i pass him through the rolled down window of my early nineties el dorado isn’t mine. there’s a chance he’s aware whose it is. doesn’t matter though. even if he is he doesn’t care.

this is clinton avenue, cocaine capital of jersey, and i’m just an errand-running white boy working for another white boy. this is his neighborhood. i’m just passing through.

he’s wearing workout gloves. it’s fall but i’ve seen him wearing them in the summer time too. it’s not hard to guess why.

nodding, his gloved hand turns the package. he seems unconcerned with the neighborhood’s police. his corn rows are freshly twisted. like an investment banker in a cornflower button-up with a white collar, he looks the part.

“we straight,” he says and begins to turn away.

this is bad.

i insist, “where’re the bills?”

he smiles, “don’t trip mah dude. takin’ this one on credit. i got you later.”

she’s riding shotgun. we don’t talk much about my after school job. she’s gathered enough to know what’s happening isn’t good.

i find the handle and begin opening the heavy door.

“hold up,” his jagged voice warns.

his left hand lifts his t shirt exposing a pistol tucked between ck boxer-briefs and sagged jeans. his right brandishes a pointer finger at her.

“i ain’t playin’,” he informs without emotion.

there’s something wrong with me. being shown a gun doesn’t bring out much of an emotional response. it probably should.

this situation’s the exception. she gets him. her face shows the beginnings of hysteria. my hand sprint away from the door’s handle. both hands grip the wheel where he can see them.

“smart mo’fucka,” he says and jogs towards a building door fifteen feet away.

he must be pretty unintimidated to turn his back on someone he’s robbed for almost a thousand dollars. my ego bleeds. *

*

*the scary part’s here. letting the property’s owner know.

through a prepaid phone my voice tip toes, “he took it without paying.”

he never sounds angry. that’s what’s most frightening about him.

“i’m coming to pick you up now. don’t make me wait outside. we’re day-tripping to jersey.”

“ok,” i say because it’s the only thing i can.

“what do they call this clown again?”

“big rell.”

“sounds like a tough guy,” his vocal chords smirk into my ear before he hangs up.*

*

*1988 monte carlo super sport. fresh electric blue paint. clean factory rims. it’s fucking beautiful. i make sure i don’t slam the door getting in.

looking at him always jars me a little. his head’s shaved to the scalp. “queens, new york” is tattooed in gothic lettering across its left side. eight of the fingers gripping the wheel have a letter of “skin head” tattooed on each knuckle. his long sleeve ben sherman button-up’s orange. no one looks good in orange.

he skips pleasantries.

“did the joker have a gun?”

“yeah.”

“what kind?”

“probably a glock. there was an extended magazine sticking out of the handle too.”

he doesn’t react. just opens the glove box and removes his hardware. he makes sure every chamber’s full and spins the cylinder of the large revolver. after clicking it back into place he tucks it between his legs almost out of sight.

“you should be able to do everything with eight shots you’d want to with sixteen.”

“i’d rather not use any shots,” i say softly.

“that’s why you got bitch made by a faggot amateur.”

i don’t respond. we start driving towards the tunnel in silence.*

*

*the glass panes of the bar’s front haven’t been washed in a while. a neon colt 45 sign hangs behind them.

i had a twenty-two ounce draft here the one time i met the poor bastard who robbed me. it was a dollar. the whites of the bartenders eyes were more of a yellow.

“this shit-hole’s where he hangs out?”

“think so.”

“makes sense. that rimmed out rice rocket an inch from the ground’s his?”

he gestures towards a modified foreign car parked near the bar’s open door.

“think so.”

“you think so? you’re not brave or bright i guess. he usually alone?”

“i don’t know.”

“what fucking use are you,” he asks bringing another instrument out from under his seat. a section of the barrels have been sawed off. i’m pretty sure that’s illegal. doubt that’s on his list of concerns.

this has gotten way too real.

pushing the shotgun into my grip he says, “make sure we have privacy when i get him out on the street.”

“i don’t shoot people,” i whisper.

“‘fuck was that?”

“i don’t shoot people.”

his right knuckles, bearing the “head” part of “skin head,” hook into my sol plexus. i lose my wind.

“you’ll be able to breathe again in a second. listen good- you could trade places with him if you’d like.”

when i’m able to get air back in my lungs i re-grip the shotgun thinking about my options. the decisions i’ve made up to now haven’t left any good ones. he sees i understand this and starts rolling up his sleeves. i notice a “u.s.m.c. death before dishonour” tattoo on the back of his forearm.

after tucking the pistol into the back of his pants he walks into the bar. his gait’s casual.*

*

*the door’s open but the thief exits the bar through the window panes.

my employer walks out the door with the same nonchalance he walked in with. the gun gripped in his hand isn’t the revolver he’d brought with him. it’s the automatic i’d seen in the offending party’s waist earlier.

no one runs out of the bar to help the man lying on the ground surrounded by broken glass. i’m afraid to close my eyes. the shotgun rests in my lap while i stare.

it’s a hell of a thing watching a man get beaten half to death with his own gun.*

*

*he shuts the car door as carefully as i did when he gets back in. he starts rolling down his sleeves and buttoning the cuffs. there’s blood on the ugly shirt.

“want to get a sandwich? i ain’t buying though,” is the first thing he says.

i don’t answer.

“suit yourself. i’m getting chicken cutlet on white. cheddar cheese, lettuce, tomato, onion, oil, vinegar, mayo, salt, and pepper. if you’re hungry you better get your own when we stop. i’m not sharing.”

i don’t answer. he shifts the gears, starts driving, and sighs.

“maybe you should start thinking about delivering pizzas instead.”*

*


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