Midnight at the drug store

Bells Jingle in July
At the Walgreens down the Street
Twelve men walk in
No eleven
One of them is a woman
She is holding onto the left arm
Of the man in the fishing jacket
And her eyes sag like
Flat tires,
They walk down the aisle
Together to the tune
Of Christmas chimes
Clinging to the promise
Of salvation from something sinister
But just out of
Reach.
Four-fifty, I said,
And hand the aspirin back
To the hunched man
Watch him walk back to his car
Through the branded window.
They are looking at candy now,
Whispering something sweet
In each other’s ears
Covering wet faces with wet kisses
And gripping too tight
Onto each other’s hands,
White knuckles,
Loose sleeves,
A tissue hanging from a back pocket.
There are other men
Who are pretending not to see.
They brush by
And they sweat
And they pretend that
They are just as happy
As jolly old Santa Claus
Clutching to his fur coat
And flying alone
In the dead of winter.

Who you Love // Who you Die for

10.27.2018 – Pittsburgh, PA

 

Twenty-four hours later
When the sunlight hits your head
As it did the day before,
Will you still Love this place?
Will you tell those you Love
That you Love them
And would you Die to see them
Live and to not see them
Suffer and cover
The holes in their backs
With kisses and fill them with
Clay so they stand like
Mud golems and fall into line
With all of the nobodies
Trying to Love
And Dying because?
Would you cry and
Sleep talk with God,
Plugging the leaks in your faith
With borrowed time and
Someone else’s blood
And would you Die
To see the oppressors
Fall from their pedestals
Landing in circles of shame
In Hell? Or maybe
You let sugar drip from your lips
With blank solemn eyes
And the Love that you preach
Is just Love for yourself
And who Dies does not matter
Unless it hurts something more
Than a headline and a
Disappointed sigh?
Will you Love the remains
Of a body like you Love
The money in its pockets,
Or will you look away
And pretend that it doesn’t
Reek of your ignorance,
And will you Love the world
That lets them Die,
Saying that That is the way
It goes, That is the way
We treat the ones we Love
We forget them
We desert them
We make them exceptions
In war and in peace
We let them go and shrug it off
Like holding an umbrella
In a flood and waiting for the
Water to go away.
Who you Love // Who you Die for
One and the same, you know,
And when tomorrow comes
And you still Love that place
Where those you Loved
Went to Die,
You lose the right
To call yourself a Lover at all.

 

 

Another World

Inhaled your smoke on the subway,
Your knees the summits formed
By the mountains of your sloping legs,
Which are slender but cold.
The ash on your fingernails
Dampens pink flesh.
I want to reach over and dust off
Your hands,
Fill them with warmth
That reaches into the core of your marrow
And leaves no vein untouched,
But your eyes are glazed over
The way I remember that clear gel dripping
Over clay before sticking it in a furnace.
Here we stall for time
Between one station and the next,
But in another world
We might be joking about
The advertisements along the top of the car,
How one of them is so striking
And another is so discursive,
Laughing at the faces each other makes
When one points out how
That potted plant looks flaccid
And the other realizes it’s a metaphor.
In another world
We might be living together
As students,
Where the holes in that gray sweater
Hanging loosely around your legs
Are at worst an accident
And at best a memory.
We might have sung together
The joys of being alive
In a tiny apartment far uptown.
I would have played the piano,
And you perhaps a violin
That you love so much to hear,
Curving your lips into a smile
I cannot discern from your face.
I glance at the curls of your dark brown hair,
Imagining how it sways in the wind
As you step off the subway
And disappear around the corner.
All that lingers in the air is the smell of smoke
From the burnt residue
Of another world.

Barbershop Quartet

I refuse to grow old
Yearning for the days of my youth.
Instead, let me sing away the years
In a barbershop quartet
With my closest friends.
We might be worlds away
From one another,
But we will whistle from our hearts
A tune so pristine
It will lull the moon into a
Cornfield slumber.
The songs we choose
Are of our own composition,
Arranged only for us and no one else,
Lamenting the past with doo wops,
Humming the present with hallelujahs,
Welcoming the future with olés.
Our hair will fall out
The way our love never will,
Chins and bellies in rolls of laughter
Through centuries of pacific bliss,
Celebrating our milestones
With the music of our being.
Sing me a song, brother
And let me be your accompaniment.
As long as we have the harmony
Of each other,
I have no need
For the trivialities of youth.

In Writing

I knew I wanted to be a writer
When my best friend slammed a door in my face
And the first thing I did
Was write a letter to apologize.
The night before I told a girl I liked her
I sent her five long texts explaining
That in life you have to take risks
And that I had something to say to her,
But not now, tomorrow,
Which I spent the entire night figuring out–
Words that never made it into the open.
I handed fifteen dollars over to a man
Who told me he needed to buy a train ticket
For his sister,
Whose name he conveniently left out,
And then stalked me for an hour
Until I gave him the money.
I sat in the back corner of a coffee shop
And beat myself up
Because if I wasn’t such a pushover
I would have done something
Instead of waiting until the tragedy passed
To compose a journal entry as an afterthought.

I don’t think writers are weak,
And I don’t think I am weak,
But am I really alive
When I need to put my life to a script to live it?

The Gargoyle

Enraptured in your fire,
I tried to breathe my own.
My darling you’re a dragon,
But I am made of stone.
Our eyes have met in daylight
And yours would dart away, yet
Beneath the shadow of your face
A smile met my gaze.
I slipped and fell a thousand miles
How hard I fell in love!
Then perched upon my windowsill
I waited, watched above.
Your brilliant flame would spark to life
The pupil of the sun,
And gliding on your angel wings
My stoic heart you won.
You drew up closer gracefully
My anticipation grew, but
Before you grazed my stony lips
Above my head you flew.
Each day I settled eagerly
And tried to catch your eye,
Your stare was fixed afar, alas
Whenever you’d come by.
One day you flew with someone else,
A dragon quite like you.
You danced around each other love,
And danced right out of view.
I could not cry or lash at you
Nor did I have the wit,
You revel in your ecstasy
I hold my tongue and sit.
Our eyes would meet again one time,
No smile was my bait.
A dragon’s meant for happiness.
A statue’s meant to wait.

Blame

Why are you angry at me
When I have done nothing to hurt you?
You make me feel dirty
The way you glare
And you make me feel deaf
The way you insist
I am wrong.
Blessed are the holy,
You tell me,
And damned are the wicked.
Define those words
In terms other than
Me, and
You,
And maybe I will agree.