*by someone who thought he’d lived too much
until seeing he hadn’t lived at all*
(frankie leone, just a man)
*my name’s frankie and
i’m a passionate old man from a sand-paper neighborhood in brooklyn making elegant dresses, tasty sauce, complicated circuit boards, and tasteless jokes with a broken heart producing a golder glow than marcellas wallace’s briefcase.
i’m a profoundly loveable woman from a public housing project in akron, ohio with self-realized ambitions, impeccable writing, and green eyes that warm the world fast enough to make al gore weep.
i’m a sterile building downtown where mostly jews give birth.
i’m four pounds eleven ounces… “you can’t take him home tonight. it would be irresponsible and dangerous.”
i’m an apartment a flight up from a woman that immaculately conceived atticus finch draining forgetfulness from a bottle… “harper was so sweet when you were born. it’s just there was such a sadness about her.”
i’m a dangerously unhappy stranger throwing sheets of glass out a third story window that landed a few feet from a pregnant mother and young boy walking on 7th avenue… “we’ve got to leave this city, our kids deserve better.”
i’m a stunning girl with steely strength, beautiful brown hair, and a drive to get what she deserves now seeming across an icy ocean in the same room.
i’m a vanilla town with green lawns and catholic churches where every last name starts with mc or ends in a vowel… “the wife, kids, and me just got here. you’re from brooklyn too? 61st and 1st right by the gowanus. yeah my old man’s a guinea from the old school, folks straight off ellis island… it’s too quiet at night cat.”
i’m an old man with battered knuckles wearing a wife-beater revealing a faded tattoo of a battle-ship while collecting clown sculptures, gambling compulsively, playing classical guitar, stealing, cooking impressively, readily street-fighting at 70, and proving shocking kindness … “frankie, poppie was a good man. i love my father, he did the best he knew how.”
i’m terminator ii with dad and poppie. usually just the younger man takes the boy to the movies… “hey frankie, why’s this fuckin’ robot after this kid? all this trouble. looks like a little shit of a kid to me. – hey dad, don’t talk to my kid like that. – yeah, yeah. i gotta get on the bus to ac i’m down half-a-hundred at the tables. – we’ll get you there pop, take it easy.”
i’m irregular early growth, awkward height, strange scars, and a great hitter but too uncoordinated to catch a ball… “hey kid, you should play basketball.”
i’m a jurassic park lunch-box with a shoulder strap, turtle-necks bought by mom, buck teeth until embarrassing braces, and standing apart because it feels like there’s no other choice… “all the other children like him. i wish he could see it if only for a second. he’d be so happy.”
i’m leonard cohen, donna summers, billie holiday, diana ross, joe cocker, nina simone, michael jackson, and the beatles… “dance with me momma.”
i’m bleeding knuckles learning a tragic trade in the school-yard… “take it easy! scotty, get to the nurses office. frankie, you’re going to the principles office. you’re a scrappy thing aren’t you? you can’t fight everyone who gives you a hard time. this has to stop. at least fight fair.”
i’m used bookstores devoured by barnes and nobles called to track down forgotten authors in hopes of spending allowance, birthday, and christmas money… “they’ll ship tomorrow. does your mother know you’re reading this? do you play outside?”
i’m the absence of wind off cliff and ever-green lined coast of maine around a boy content with being alone at the oars… “i do believe the sea’s in your blood young man.”
i’m wax sculptures made with cheap candles and salvaged wine bottles by two outcasts; onestrangely tall and skinny. the other a ginger with a mouth full of vicious rhetoric… “what’re you kids doing back here? drinking the last drops out of bottles? do your parents know you hang out in allies behind bars?”
i’m “too smart for his own good,” “he gets maximum results with minimal effort,” and “he’s cursed.”… “here you come with your cronies; a king among cannibals.”
i’m a mohawk, leather, contact rubber cement, porn, steel reserve, scarring acne, marlboro reds, directionless anger, dark dirty clubs in the lower east side, bruises, broken teeth, and future regret for chasing a lie… “i tell mike and dave to stay away from frankie and his friends. i’ve heard idiot kids calling him ‘the don’ now. he’s just a skell with ridiculous hair. a terrible influence.”
i’m an unwavering grudge against you and everyone you know- the youngest delinquent of a group of hardened children… “he’s so oppositionally defiant. we don’t know what to do with him.”
i’m a pretty girl with pale skin ignored by most smoking alone on the curb in the middle-school parking lot. the unexpected gift of a white rose given by an outcast starts his painful trend of falling in love with beautiful strangers.
i’m the smoldering ruin of a police pool club, black eyes, graffiti’d walls, out-of-school suspensions, and hand-cuffs that are too tight… “that’s a bunch of bull-shit. we’re not a gang. we’re family. frankie, you should look out for you and yours. we’re yours. it’s time to get your ink.”
i’m a a series of different oubliettes. a frozen desert, the boonies of nj, next to a great salt lake, outside a beautiful ski-town, and in a forgotten corner of an unimportant state. three years of reformatories pass… “baby boy, this the life we chose. keep yo’ head up and stay wilin’ fo’ respect. you gon’ be platinum.”
i’m a setting sun over a canyon filled with natural red rock pillars watched by an escaped reform school boy and girl slowly kissing and smoking rollies. they pay for the moments with everything they had but regret never found them.
i’m an elegant italian woman from bay ridge brooklyn smoking long thin cigarettes and speaking with sophistication despite constantly saying “fuck.” for some reason maternal devotion is given to a volatile young man.
i’m the streets of a watered down lower east side and a 100 proof north brooklyn. an out of school education is given to a kid wearing a uniform of steel toe doc martens, a cold piece of metal, and a petrified heart. a starter pistol goes off sounding like four horsemen moving fast… “get in the car frankie, it’s time to do work on these streets. don’t forget the chaos.”
i’m a gorgeous thirty-seven year old woman with recklessness projecting from her pores and an obsession with staying young burning in her eyes. an eighteen-year-old kid makes the transition from high-school hooking up to fucking. he enjoys being chauffeured around in limousines and drinking at tuxedo-service restaurants.
i’m a lifeless ocean of tangueray, a desert floor of the white lady, an hour glass filled with the brown boy, and a void that won’t be filled full of choking smoke.
i’m crushed glass sparkling in the street-lit concrete of 9th street etched forever into the memory of a fogged teenager. his spinning compass.
i’m two parents watching a child enthusiastically walk down a spiral staircase into a putrid catacomb; the mother dragging him to free art exhibitions and off-broadway shows the entire time.
i’m a blunt kid with a fading british accent and bad home-made tattoos wrapped around arms looking like a child’s magna-doodle pad. everywhere and nowhere’s traveled to on a dark road. the asphalt ends in abandonment besides fifty bucks in a commissary when there’s spare cash… “the sun always seems to rise over the highway when we roll in your caddy mate. we always seem to be wearing our mirrored specs already too. la vida loca frankie. cheers.”
i’m a fatal girl perfumed with hopelessness, sex, and desperation unconcerned with the truth. a kid’s heart is wrung out by delicate hands wearing gloves of steel wool… “baby, i don’t give a fuck how cliché it is; i’ll always be your nancy and you’ll always be my sid.”
i’m almost seven years of darkness where resignation reigns alongside no hope for love, community, a future, true friendship, a predictable tomorrow, and a decent life-span… “frankie, every day is another chance in life.” – “no ma, the sun rising is a prison sentence for me.”
i’m a hideous miracle throwing a torch into a pitch-black abyss… “the state of — finds you guilty on all counts.”
i’m the conclusion of twenty-two years of prayers to night skies. for the first time inside a foreboding vault of memories there’s hope for something better.
i’m crucial words heard by a lost boy not long after he comes outside, “the streets ain’t shit. stepping away from the fringes of humanity is easy. living the life that follows is the real work. start your journey young blood.”
i’m a short guy in his mid-30’s wrapped in thick muscle with most skin covered in japanese art; an ok car thief and really good fiend once upon a time. these days a beautiful man that runs a restaurant taking an overwhelmed kid under his wing. advice isn’t given on the unknown, but enough is known.
i’m a short old man with bad teeth and a big belly wearing sweat pants and chucks; once a vicious gangster and vietnam veteran but now a loving father, master-carpenter, wonderful friend, and enlightened man that knows pain, love, and hope(ful/less)ness.
i’m a week at a penthouse in miami with a wealthy morally-flexible russian and aspiring male stripper. completely sober the entire time. at dusk wisps of hope come in through the balcony overlooking the ocean and the scent of love sweeps in through the balcony with a view of the bay.
i’m a beautiful woman given the window seat on a ferry outside venice on a clear summer day. a tall skinny man watches her and feels mind-bendingly grateful his mother is smiling out a clean window.
i’m the realization now’s the time to move pieces other than pawns.
i’m the northern portion of the borough of lost boys where the lost come to search for something they can’t identify. a lanky monolith in close-fitting garments roams under street lights blinded by romantic notions he prays are founded on something.
i’m a fourth-floor walk-up in bushwick with prostitutes visible from a bedroom window. an icy computer programmer grossly overcharges as an unsettling sex addict creates a series of uncomfortable situations. one month notice immediately.
i’m a melancholy israeli tattooed to the finger-tips with a passion for good clothes, goya’s paintings, loyal friends from the bricks, and the night. a lost boy sugar-walks next to him.
i’m a pink and orange sky lined by fireworks over the bqe. under it three men grasping the fallacy of cool glide in a monte carlo wearing calm expressions and listening to funk.
i’m a sore back and wrists learning how to move furniture and boxes with an illustrated enigma, a musician with an afro and glasses, a middle-aged illegal immigrant, and an experimental theater actor with a gold tooth.
i’m tired green eyes stung by flashbulbs while flamboyantly gay photographers coin the look attached to the man wearing them… “frankie, we don’t love you because you look like a pretty teenager. we love you because you’re defexy. you look you’ve been places you shouldn’t have. stand very straight, arch your back, and stick your hips a little forward. beautiful. just keep that dangerous face expressionless sweetie.”
i’m the cruel doors of clubs with deceptive dim lights a crew of tall well-dressed men are waved passed by muscle-bound sentinels wearing plastic smiles.
i’m the disillusioned man next to the dance-floor with smoke and mirrors in his eyes watching a crowd of regret tomorrow morning with fading interest.
i’m an old warehouse building on kent avenue covered in graffiti with thin walls, parties, sublime people, and a room for a man freezing on the streets in the sweltering heat of a summer long passed. the promised land.
i’m a sun rise each morning over brooklyn shining through a dirty window onto a hopeful man and his black cat with eyes two different shades of yellow.*