this partially-beheaded universe

the admonition
of a blade of grass.

the hateful speed
of a neoplasm.

the sense that spring itself
is an infection.

the plea of everyone
for unity parked on cracking ice.

the telephone hot with
blood of argument.

the argument hot with
blood of betrayal, misuse, both.

the voice in the voice mail, breaking with tears,
announcing the long-expected end of the thing.

the cabbie screaming about a prostitute,
swerving irresponsibly through the lanes,
and you thinking
yes yes, so this is how it ends.

I have a second-cousin
said he saw
Jim Morrison
in an Arby’s
in Jackson Heights
and I believe
he’s right.

I don’t understand people…

and the way they hide behind absolutes.

They’ll say things like “Books are magic!” or “I love everyone!”

But surely there are bad books and surely there are people worth hating.

I am endlessly suspicious of people that operate this way. Mostly because it is all bullshit, bullshit that they either had programmed into them or they themselves invented in order to make sense of a wild and random world.

greatest hits

regurgitation on page,
re-gift the words,
I hear a voice asking
“Wait what’s your technical percent?”
Another says
“Makin’ it nice for you, that is if I don’t beat him to the punch.”
An old couple hugs so hard
they practically fuse into one another.

To understand this place,
I’d have to drink again.

Hold on a minute.

Are you the one
who said
this was the right way
to go?

testing ground

handcuffed senses again
waiting on another night train
I sense a stink so counterfeit
I wanna call a
shaman
or
car salesman
or
parole officer with only one palsied hand on the wheel.

and they say it’s a sin to want too little
but I reckon
that in a place like this
wanting anything at all
is like dancing
with the shadow of a speed-demon.

Look,
I said it,
and I’m still around.

 

 

you’re laughing too loud

the wind picks up a might
and I feel the need to
race the coming rain
race it clad in a stolen pinion
race it into the ground
race in beneath the ground
race it beneath the soil
where the worms
and the unspeakables
will greet me.

Sometimes I wonder
if the birds of downtown
sing to self-soothe
or if it’s
straight-up pity for us
that moves them.

dusk, served the way you like it

Out and about on Broadway,
there are hordes of defeated ghosts,
half-chilled in the half-light
of an inconstant
and hungry season.

Goddamn.

I duck into a coffee shop,
running head-to-chest
into a laughing giant.

He’s screaming into his phone
“Ya better get down here quick!”
and there’s a depth and timber
to the way he does it
that sets my blood and teeth
shaking like oysters in your gut
past their due date…
shaking, shaking,
the wind and dark picking up outside,
the relief of the neon making specters
of passers-by across the street.

I order a coffee
I suspect I won’t want
from a barista
who says hi
in a way
too friendly to trust.

The phone is a thin sliver of the uncertain in my jacket.

I pick it out,
consider calling
an old foe
before deciding
I have nothing to say.

Which is true,
but has never stopped me before.

Behind the counter, a faucet runs,
there is the clink of cups and saucers
punctuating shouts
about young evenings and
young ways
and the way the ball rolls
your way
sometimes,
oftentimes
when you’re not hoping too hard.

Things will get to settling down,
but not quite yet.

 

 

 

 

 

 

face-off

the train pulling in
has a great
laser-beam eye
focused on me.

It wants me hypnotized.

But I’ve got me
a funny immunity
cobbled together

by failure,
city filth,
promises that
evaporated
before they were
even uttered.

I let it speed by,
leave the station,
look for an
all-night bodega.

What’s up next
needs to be
easier.

 

 

 

 

I lost it there

The subway car signs
accost with images
and stories
of the magnificent
people,
the ones who’ve
really made it.

Next to me,
an elderly man
smells of something
I can’t quite place,
something lost.

His hands fumble
along a brown rosary
and he seems to hum
it out bead to bead,
playing the damn thing
like a guitar.

There is an announcement
of congestion ahead
and it’s so goddamn right.

January ’95

I walk
pleasantly drunk
in the new snows,
communing with the
bracing air,
and
in some vaguely
Germanic fashion,
my ancestors.

The Avenue snakes ahead
Ridgewood through
Ivanhoe.

It lingers
out there
like some
reflection gone
crazed
and I try to
snatch at it
with gloved
hands and intentions.

Yes,
it is a night to
set things
top-side up,
a night to
sing the right songs,
the good songs
in a good key
that will leave the
breath-clouds
themselves
sweet.

Across the street,
there’s a gang of
young boys
in satin varsity jackets
kicking around a garbage can;
they are screaming
for something to come,
perhaps the
brutes or the
angels or a
slicing nor’easter to
bust off the top
of the town
like an old bottle cap.

The lamplights recede on.

There’s more
coming, and
I’ve got
the nerve
to see
it through.

laminated soul

it’s tempting to
blame it on
the pissed-off
spirits
that linger
about me.

watching you
is like watching a
spinoff
of a t.v. show
I never liked too
much
to begin with.

Underground again.

Underground and tired
in that way that
takes a blowtorch
to your bones.

Underground and waiting
too long
too hard
with a head-full of
wounded sharks,

prime to be devoured by their own kind.

On the edge of the track,
it goes black
except the rivets
which are
yellow.

It’s another invitation,
you just need
to squint
to read it.