Mild-Mannered Night

night shot 2

A few weeks ago, West Village penthouse

I love the mild-mannered night
Who treats me cordially, without slight.
She stoops down, so we walk together,
Like blue-brown birds of a feather.
She brushes my arm and smiles a smile
That gleams like a moon-lit mile
Of sharpened beer-bottle glass.
For in her still, Winter lingers
And its Stygian fingers
Still seek to clasp.

But Spring laughs–
Like fairy claps
A mild sound,
Full of round nouns
And dew-drop crowns
Woven of polymer-fiber dusk,
Slowly turning the sky to rust.

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When It’s Spring and the Ground is Stirring

When It’s Spring and the Ground is Stirring

I remember living sometimes, when it’s spring and the ground is stirring. I remember people—their footsteps hard against the packed earth. I remember mornings of flower blossoms and seeing girls out in their summer clothes, just slightly too soon. This is life: a fleeting progression from youth to age, just slightly too soon. It’s all we have. And yet, and yet…

It’s not that I wish for more. I abhor the slow track. Spring is the dying time in my mind. It is the heartbreaking loneliness. It is the bitterness of retreat. But that’s not true: what I’m picturing is protracted winter, instead. Like the winters when my parents left me. The ones that meandered into April and then May. Continue reading

Empire State

empire_state

midtown from downtown

I was out with my friend Frankie the other night. It was just the two of us after a show, which was itself after a party, so it was more-or-less the inevitable time just before you call it quits and find a cab home. We were at a bar. Some Williamsburg special with cut up playing cards festooning the tables. It wasn’t our first choice, but it was out of the cold and we could hear ourselves over the pulse of the jukebox.

“One day, I’m going to miss this,” Frankie told me. It was a thought that had come to him the night previous while walking home in Bayside, so late it was morning. It wasn’t, he explained, just a thought that struck him because he was walking home or because of the train ride before that (or the midnight movie before that); instead it was a strange awareness that passed over him, a pre-emptive nostalgia for being young and in New York. A knowledge that some day all of this will be over.

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My Winter Rooms

I.

The city retreats in winter.
It recedes into itself and
I worry about the alley cats
And the man who used to sit
Wrapped up in ratty blankets
Like a great flightless bird
Nesting over the sidewalk grate.

Without them, the sky closes in
And low-hanging clouds
Fat with ice bear down
Compressing skyscrapers into
A claustrophobic maze of
Pavement—white with salt
And cracked like
The skin of my chapped lips,
Once so plump in spring.

I retreat into myself:
Another hidden face
Biting against a scarf.

What imperfect beasts we are,
Dreaming of our heated rooms,
Wrapped into misshapen wool packages
Into down-padded trappings that
Don’t keep out the misery.
At least not for me.
I feel all full of leaks
And the wind it blows
Through every open window
Every crack in my countenance.

And in my house of empty rooms
The fires have all been banked, for
My heart is an unused space:
I do not heat it in winter.

II.

I miss her again. Sitting in my new life. In a room she never saw, in a city she never lived in. And yet, in this place she’s never even dreamed of, her absence is an ache: as palpable as a physical wound.

Winter is maybe the worst time. The years of their passings were the longest winters of my life. I’m not sure they’ve ended yet.

Still, I know I’m not the only one living with ghosts. Everyone will, eventually.

III.

My friend:
I love you just enough
To visit you.
Provided
It doesn’t involve walking
Through the bad part of town.

IV.

Meet me in the cold. In the untrodden snow. In the memories we never made. I miss you, or the grand potential of you: I’m not really sure which was ever dearer. I miss your hands and the sideways look you’d give me in the backseat of a cab. I miss the way I fit right under you chin. I miss how annoyed at you I could get. I miss your optimism, your frustration. I missed the way you loved everyone you met, but could never find the words to really tell them. I miss who I was when I was with you.

I wonder if it’s an authentic feeling, this wistfulness coiling in my chest, or if I’m merely looking at ourselves on paper. A story with characters much beloved and yet…finished. Done with what they have to say. I hope not. I’m very jealous of anyone who has your time, these days. I wonder often if we could be friends. Not the kind we are now. The kind with late phone calls and an encyclopedic knowledge of the other’s everything. I know you’re busy. That these things either happen or they don’t.

I wonder if my missing was the problem all along. I wonder if I saw the ending before the start. I wonder if I was too wistful, too sad. Because the truth is, I don’t smile much. But when you touched me, I laughed.