Inside the butcher shop

March 10, 2014

Inside their cages
the rabbits
shit on the ducks shit
on the chickens.
The butchers
are all attractive women,
less blood stained than one would guess,
wearing their white coats too well.

The stench reaches the other side of the street,
mixing with that of a nearby deli
where meat is roasting on a stick.

A young girl raps on the window
and waves to a rabbit.

She probably thinks of it
as a “bunny.”

Let’s join the Byrd gang and all go throw rocks through windows. 
Let’s make Friday wait for us. 
You are part knife, part slab of meat. 
The world is a shark.

You know what comes next. 

Poem From The Woman Sitting Across From Me On The Subway

Look at this boy looking at me.
Tossing his eyes so secret-like.
Like I don’t see him each time
I look up from my book, pretending
he’s embarrassed to be caught.
This is not a game of cat and mouse,
boy, I just want to see how close we are
to Canal so I can get off.

Stop

trying to see what book I’m reading.
No, you probably have not read it. No,
it is not exciting that we both like books.
Stop taking all your books
out of your backpack to show me
that you have them, it does not
look like you’re organizing. It looks
like you’re trying to show me all your books.

Boy,

why are you wearing those bags
under your eyes so proudly? Why
neck cracking like a mating call? We
are all tired. All beat. Your legs
are not more sore than anyone else’s.
It is still okay that you did not offer
your seat to anyone, this is New York,
but don’t think you deserve it.

Hey,

they call it stealing glances because
I’m not looking to give them away.
When our eyes just met, it was not
a cute mistake. I was staring
to fucking intimidate you into looking
at somebody else. And
I saw you fix your hair in the reflection
of the train. Making it the

“right”

kind of messy. I’ve got my finger on the trigger
of your intimacy now, don’t I? You let it slip.
The way you made sure your hair was flat
on the sides and double checked the cross
of your legs. You wont ever say anything.
I can smell pent up pick-up lines
on your breath, you’ve been holding
them in your mouth for that long.

Look,

I don’t want that one-way ticket
to your day dream. This is not a poem.
This is the N train. I’ve got places to be
and no time for the type of silence
your kind deals in. And anyways,
I do not need wooing. My heart
does not need the keys you hope
to shape for it. Some of us

don’t

keep our hearts chained.
So erase all of this. Put away the pen.
I’m just someone on the subway. Not
the vehicle for your epiphany. Not
the photo thumb-tacked inside your
heart locker. I do not need
to be written about to be whole.
And anyways, I don’t need help with that.

You do.

the essence in the flesh

December 8, 2013

how many freezing winds has winter breathed in this man’s face to carve lines so finger deep? and when did these twisted, ashen roots spring forth to replace his fingers? these could not be the fingers of his youth. even young man’s hands do not play claw as well as these. it is these claws that must have filled his mouth with hay. his voice is thick with paper, kicking out of his throat with every bullet sentence.

still, he is the cardboard delivery man who looks the most like a cardboard delivery man. his coat, his hat, his boots, are the clothes of his profession. the snow knows to ignore shoulders sloped like his, the cold has given up its assault on his toes. his hands, twisted as they are, lift and push the cardboard as if we were meant to watch this. and his voice, grappling its way down the shotgun of his throat, barks orders so efficient we begin to learn dance like him.

under his strict guidance, the back of the truck blazes and we all turn lightbulb, so fast are we firing cardboard onto the dock and into the warehouse. the cold turns around and goes home. our aching arms stop creaking so loud. our grease remembers what it is here for. it takes mere minutes to empty the truck, so cardboard delivery man is this delivery man.

when he goes home, does he keep everything on the counter in order to avoid opening a single box? does his wife massage lotion into his shriveling skin? does he throw off his beaten clothes and drape himself in furs? I imagine instead that he sleeps on a stack of cardboard. that he loves the smell. that he knows he is the best, and proudly teaches his child grace, waltzing boxes back and forth across the living room.

and if he ever dies, and I wonder if it is possible, I imagine him buried in a box made of cardboard. I imagine

he would want it that way.

becoming

October 10, 2013

a lengthy buzz ricotches
between my eyes-
I hurtle from the bed
before the second splits,
lights on, shoe
in hand, manic
with mosquito possibility.
black comforter
is shrunk into a crack,
pillows launched into closet,
hands lusting to smash frantic,
too late. The itch,
the unbearable itch
pistoned into dwarf bumps
begins. Left arm, three bites.
Right arm, five. Forefinger
marred, my back
one big bug bite, pulsating
scratch down my veins.
I blanche and blotch pink,
speckled skin crawling
so fast it vibrates.
I can feel them on me,
one million tiny feet
caressing, digging
thirsty, penetration,
a well is spring
I lose myself, straws
sticking out into lips
red like I’ve never
seen before.

The windows are sealed.

I check under the bed.
Gestated swarm
fills my mouth,
I cough out MOSQUITO,
legs caught in my teeth
whole body surging
bug wave washes over me, clinging
to every vein. Three
fly up my ear
and my brain goes MOSQUITO
bones buzzing I claw wings
from my back, fly
through the crack in the door.

What is that light and why
is it so beautiful?
Where did all these legs
come from?
The itch
is gone.
But the thirst,
the incredible thirst.
I drink,
and I drink,
and I give nothing back.

mother, your blue collar son

September 20, 2013

mother, your blue collar son
did not get the retail job.
got the warehouse job.
heard disappointment spring a leak
when he told you.
hadn’t felt disappointed
until then.
gets why.
He could be lifting boxes
back in Nicaragua.
And despite your expectations,
the college degree
landed him here.
He needs the money.

mother, your blue collar son
has the credit card
for emergencies.
mother, your blue collar son
switched from American Spirits
to Parliaments. Is considering
switching to Newports. It
would save him two dollars
per pack.
Has not considered
quitting. Does not know how much
he spends on cigarettes each month
Is afraid to do the math.

mother, your blue collar son
read The Count of Monte Cristo
and wrote two poems
last week. He liked
The Count of Monte Cristo
and his friends liked the poems.
He knows
that is not enough.
Does not know
what is enough.
Does not measure success
in salaries.

mother, your blue collar son
would hate the office job.

mother, your blue collar son
read three articles on
immigrants expecting more
from their children.
remembered your stories
about not knowing the right words
to trick-or-treat with
in English.
Then texted his ivy-league brother.
Then laughed when his brother
said he was the favorite.
Then thought about it all night.

mother, your blue collar son
is happy to be paying the rent.
happy to be writing these poems.
imagines getting buff
working at the warehouse.
imagines getting published.
is happy.
has sworn off words like, “enough”
to describe happiness.
flinches when you use those words
to describe money.
does not measure success in salaries.
Knows what is enough,
does not know
what is enough
to you.

mother, your blue collar son
does plan
on more than this.
is starting small, and knows it.
does not need speculation
on how small.
regrets telling you the wage
for this reason.
stop calling you back
for this reason.
is happy, but
with every intention
of becoming more
than what he is.

mother, your blue collar son
is not doing this
for you. Is not
doing this because
he has to.
Is doing this
because
when he was little
you told him
he could.

no parking Sunday

August 20, 2013

turning left
on 56th,
I step out of Brooklyn
and into a festival, the
moment my feet leave
the sidewalk.

in the distance I see
the whole street blocked off,
and decide to make my way up
on the pavement.
it feels no different
through the rubber soles
of my one pair of sandals,
but the breeze seems
more accessible, here,
separated from the rising buildings.

without fear of rushing cars,
barbeques have sprung up
to offer all their smells of summer,
and trays full of burgers
are eagerly passed around to
hungry grandmothers, who,
finishing each in three bites,
argue over which has been
prepared best.

children blaze by on tricycles and scooters,
all of which are the same
candy shade of pink.
the kids tirelessly race
each other down the small hill
of this block, before pushing
themselves back to the other end,
scooters dragging limp behind them.
some pass me two, and even three
times as I continue walking,
their hair sailing and smiles
set firm in their cheeks, as the
eyes of mothers hide secretly
behind tables, with
hands ready to spring out
and prevent any impending crash.

an inflatable pool is filled with
young boys in t-shirts, and
cupfuls of water are brandished
against any girls who
make an approach.

a haphazardly tossed Frisbee,
also pink, makes its descent
out of the sky and lands
directly in front of me.

Dare I pick it up?

I too have reveled in games
of catch in the middle of the street,
though one very distant from here.
Perhaps I could toss it back
to the triangle of boys, and,
seeing me join the game,
the men nearby would put down
their deck of cards
and come play as well.

visions of a street-wide game
cross my mind, as well as of me
sitting with the grandmothers
to judge the burgers, and, later,
being taught the secrets of dominos.

Yet,
with a thick book under my arm,
my eyebrows firmly serious, and my
too nervous anticipation of rain,
it becomes clear that this street
was not closed off for me.

so I leave the families
to the cool breezes they have
rightfully won from life.

and I head upstairs.
to apply for jobs, and eat
leftover pasta, and find my hill

that is worth climbing up
just to race down.

day five

August 7, 2013

last night
I accidentally used
the toothbrush you
accidentally left behind.
it did not taste of your taste,
your lips were not present
in the bristles, nor the sweetness
of your strawberry tongue.
in my hand, it felt
not at all like the small
of your back, nor the spine
that my fingers traced so long ago.
it was not soft as you are,
and its residue carried
not a hint of the autumn smell
you perpetually wear. your ghost

was not to be found. Not even
when I chanted your name to
the mirror, nor when I did the same
in my sleep. You had left me

a toothbrush. With which I was
to conjure you in your absence.
And I could not

even
do that.

it only took the artist
being gone for five minutes
for a woman to role her
metal cart over the realistic
chalk rendition of
Robert Downey Jr. on
the sidewalk outside
Union Square Park.

and worse

she did it with disdain!
she actually looked down,
saw the thing,
walked RIGHT over it,
and smirked at her petty
triumph. I wanted

to yank her back by the hair
and shove her nose in it,
like a dog that defecates
on your rug. “Bad
middle aged lady! No!
No ruining the pretty picture!”
I wanted to yell at her.

Or
to pay her in turn;
showing up at her work
(my guess in middle management)
and shuffling her papers,
unalphabetizing her rolodex
and removing paintings of
boats and pastoral scenes
from her walls.

all it would have taken
was a slight adjustment
of her trajectory, and
she would not have rubbed
all the yellows, and blues,
and reds together and
blown dust in everyone’s eyes.

And I was with
the artist, and I was her,
and I was everyone taking
the pictures, and I was the
quarters in the hat and we all
lamented the loss
of the beautiful chalk

Robert Downey Jr.

time for a change

July 29, 2013

the first pulls out easy.
a blonde hair that had snuck
its way into my black, 
the opposing side’s rook, 
so opposite my ancestry of
dark haired, dark skinned 
obsidian. the second,
like the first, takes little 
effort to pry free of its
small plot on my chin.
soon, I am ripping away
chunks, three and then
eight at a time, of gnarled
weeds, taking the skin
with them.
                 It smarts. 
Each falls to the sink
and joins the other twisted,
coarse, dead stalks as
my chin begins to redden.
then, even a small dot of
blood starts the path past
my bottom lip, until a slow 
drip has grown. But I 
am too far along now for
fixing, and make the last
desperate yanks that will
free me of this face. 
And it stings, and the
smell is unbearable
as I light the small pile. 

but they look so pretty
burning up. 

there’s lots of talk
of electric cars, of
moon bases and jet packs,
but no one ever mentions
what wigs will look like
in 100 years.

They will have to be different.

A scientist will find
a way to grow human hair
on a mouse’s back. or
an explorer
will discover a mysterious root
in the heart of Brazil, which,
when laid across a bald scalp,
will attach itself and grow
an afro-like moss.

or, in an act of rebellion
against a society
hell-bent on preserving
“morally righteous” haircuts,
teenagers, in 3013, will begin
to wear brightly colored
and oddly shaped wigs. But this
will become the norm. And so,
in increasing efforts of
out-cooling one another,
the wigs will have to grow
more elaborate, looking less and
less like human hair.

Hats will be obsolete.

Barbers
will go out of business.

The bald will rejoice!

It will no longer be strange
to look out the window
of your fourth floor apartment
and witness an ocean
of clashing colors and
Dali-esque hairpieces.

And I,

I will don
a ten-story tall wig.
Bright pink, with sections for children to
play in and a slide that goes
from the top to my feet.
I will be

cooler

than all
of you.

“and I thought you’d leave, but not that you’d disapparate” -The Wombats

you want of me
the one thing that I
cannot give you:

silence

of a summer

July 13, 2013

what a pleasurable sensation.
so sweet a trickle- my toes,
so sticky my shoes so soon
to follow. I stepped
on a peach.
Her warm rotted breast making
mess of my sandals, the
easiest route to then tickle-my-toes,
the lapping and pooling of both
as my heels then opened
their mouths, learning to taste
for the first time.
(and sticky all the way home.)

the last light still on

June 27, 2013

in the last apartment at
the end of the island
carving beams out from the fog,
after the trains have started
to whisper and the fireflies
fallen asleep, when even the waves
kiss the beach with less breath,
when even the beach
kisses back with less stone

then, alone, there is a last light
still on, closing in
its distance from me, walking
over the water and calling
my name, and behind it

                          is you.

6.12

June 16, 2013

I used to carry a diamond
right here in my hand, I just know it,
a diamond, remember?
we used to hold it up to the sun.
you laughed at how silly I was
when I got distracted by the light’s
clean reflection, this happened,
I used to carry a diamond.
You have to remember, you loved it as I did,
a diamond that had grown in our hands.
I know it sounds foolish, you must think
that it could not have been, not so
perfect, so pure, so worth all the world-
this diamond of ours, this cold coal kiss
this bliss everlasting, what happened, what
happened, I used to carry a diamond.

What of it now? Lost, I think,
being too hard to destroy, but tossed to the sea,
it could be, it could be, that we will not
find it again. No funeral, pockets turned out,
no diamond, the end.

it gets quiet enough,

and although it is rare it does happen
usually at night when the traffic has died down
and the only footsteps are drunk ones and
after the bar closes as those footsteps too
find beds to sleep in and even the pigeons
recognize when their dusty wings are beating
the air too loudly,
 

            for twenty seconds
 
and for whatever reason only if I am in the
bathroom but before the faucet is running, before
I am filling another glass of water or washing
my face and after the toilet flushes, even after
it is silent completely, if I’m not making noise
of my own, 

                        in these moments

when if you were to step outside, to finish
your glass of water or have a cigarette
you would find an odd chill waiting to lift
up the hairs on your arm and sneak under 
your shirt, not cold enough to lead you back
inside for a jacket, merely to note it as
“one of those weird summer night when it
cools down too much and maybe it means it
will rain soon”
 

                                    right then

when I am so close to sleep it seems only
under a pillow, when the day has shaken my
legs clean of muscle, when my eyelids are
sliding down a pole to a pile of sad dreams,
 

                                                if I listen carefully

I can hear four stories down and under the
sidewalk, the subway blurring by, and if 
I am lucky, it sounds like the end of the world. 

For Tara 

I’m going to be
the first man on the moon.
But you’ll be getting here soon.
In the meantime
I’ll try to stay on the side
that catches all the light.
You’ll see me
(just a speck)
I’ll be waving to you.
And when the day comes
that you don’t see me there
Don’t worry, I haven’t gone
anywhere.
I’m lowering you a ladder
the rope is made of silk
and you’ll climb it.
I know that you will.
That’s just what you do.
And will call it our own
when we’re both
on the moon.

You told me
you are a firm believer
in the Oxford comma. Baby
THAT
is fucking sexy.

college hippie bullshit

February 20, 2013

the heat went out
and we all pretended like
it wasn’t the third time,
like we could still blame
somebody else. So we
bundled up and played guitars
and card fames and
got the boiler running enough
to spackle our rooms with
limited flame whispers and
heat licks like warm water
was less necessary (so we
showered somewhere else).
And the whole time we were
singing and drinking in
defiant opposition of the suited
men who held hostage our oil and
we never even called them
or cared to check our bills.

Turritopsis Nutricula

February 14, 2013

I promise
to be always your lamplight.
Rooted outside your window even
when the cold is breaking me.
And always your room
will be lit by my bulb,
even dimly, sometimes,
but I will glow if I can, when
I can’t, I will flicker
your fingers and nightlight
your walk home. Though I
cannot claim to be
the brightest light you will find,
I will be constant, and will
be your window’s sunrise.
There will be days I may start
to burn you. I will try to
not be the fire and only
the light, I am sorry
when I don’t get that right.
And

I promise
to be always your window
I will show you
the most beautiful things.
Lay your head near me;
hear how easy you make
my wind breath. Let me
whisper you lilac, and
cool your pillow before
you sleep. I cannot claim
to be the world, but I can
show it to you, and what you
want to, you can see through me.
There will be
days when I will not open,
when the force of your
fingers even cannot pry
fresh air from me,
when this happens,
I am sorry. And

I promise
to be always your pillow.
Yes lumpy, yes old, yes
imperfect and feather leaking;
I know I am like this
in the same way I know I am yours.
I cannot claim to be the silk
or the dream, but I can always
try to help you to sleep.
You may rest your head on me
at the end of each long day,
I was made just to carry that weight,
I can promise you that.

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