have become the lantern
striking in the dark
and the butterfly
that drifts delicately,
minutes do not serve
as palanquins holding thoughts
filled with your semi-sweet laughter
and my burning
seemed too brilliant
for your soul’s eyes to find me
in this orchard
created by our conversations
like they used to.
you don’t fly this way
as much anymore
and i no longer strain
to view what Calliope has left
in lemon ochre and silk
instead i stretch forth
into dusk’s arms
and find that you have added to the glow
before taking your leave
have not been so considerate
in their flight.
sometimes having the ability to have people open up to
you can lead you into places you don’t expect to be. or
even want to be. but on a clear day in March a few years
ago, i wound up in a situation that could be chalked up
to being charming and at the same time, still being as
gullible as a tourist buying CDs from a ‘rapper’ in the
middle of Times Square.
i was in the Village, having gone there on an off day
to try to catch a documentary screening. i got there
and found out it was packed to overflowing. i hadn’t
eaten, and so i hit the McDonald’s over by West 8th for
a quick bite. i get my food, sit down and plug into my
Sony Discman to drown out the reverb brought about by
the boisterous Spanish of the crew and the chatter of
a few Bowery winos whose legs couldn’t take any more
walking. it wasn’t more than three minutes when i felt
someone staring at me. you know that certain stare, the
one where you think someone took a magnifying lens to
it as if that one part was an ant. so i stop, turn to
my right and see her.
don’t ask me about her name, ’cause that got lost in
the staccato flow of the conversation that took place.
she had a smile on her though. open but coy. it drew
her lips back like an archer’s bowstring. her skin was
like brown cedar that hadn’t had its polish just yet.
she was rocking Timberlands, black jeans and a hooded
sweater that probably was a dude’s 5XL Discus. i smiled
back, and she took that as her cue to walk over. she
was less ‘around the way girl’ but not exactly the
‘gangsta b****’ Apache rhymed about. or so i thought at
the time. we introduced ourselves, and she wasted no
time. ‘you’re cute. what’s your story?’ she asked.
‘i’m just a regular dude.’ i reply, trying to figure
out where this was going. ‘oh, you’re not regular. i
see it, you’re special. so, you got anybody? no? what’s
up with you and me?’ my mind went, ‘REALLY? Damn you
work fast.’ when she reached out to rub my hand, she
lowered her voice a bit. ‘i like big guys. maybe we
can go to a movie. or a motel’, she said in a tone
that was chock full of hot sheets and cold, cheap wine.
i then noticed how slightly rough her hand was. “oh
yeah? a motel?’ i replied, wanting to see what she’d
say next. ‘yeah, that way you can do me. and maybe if
you’d like, give me a gift.’
DING DING DING DING. she was a pro. but one of those
‘i can hook you up/lunch special’ pros. not wanting
to make a scene, and realizing i had already given
her my number before that happened, i began to make my
escape. ‘sounds real nice, but i got things to do right
about now. you know how it is.’ she looked a bit hurt.
but that snare of a smile popped back up. ‘i know.
but i do wanna spend some time boo. i think a big man
like you needs to relax.’ so i broke out, and thought
‘well, i’ll never hear from her again.’
fast forward about six weeks. i get a phone call out
of the blue. from her. with a mess of noise in the
background. turns out, she was calling from someone
else’s phone in a hair salon somewhere. and so she
asked me if we could meet up. i lie and say that i got
a gig to head out to in Brooklyn. but she’s persistent,
telling me she shaved just for me(i don’t think i need
to elaborate)and that she likes it rough. we then wind
up chit-chatting and it turns out her folks live no
more than 20 minutes from where i live. and that she
had just gotten out of the women’s facility at Rikers
Island. and to sum up the conversation, she mentioned
she was having trouble. and that she needed someone to
‘look out for her’. soon after that, she said she’d
call me later, but i never heard from her again. and
a proposition to be a pimp was how that whole situation
ended, the second time that’s been asked of me.
the first time? that’s for another time. thanks for
reading, until the next time…
scats like Ella circa ’59
i fix my collar
hoping that the sweat
of fresh sandalwood and elderberry
still carries my words to your ears.
ears that let the wind
leave couplets in their folds
to be whispered whenever
the pink coral earrings
that called you to get them
off of rivington street moved.
coffee may keep us awake
but i’m dreaming in your eyes
carving my name in their teak interior
like lazy schoolkids.
and as you blush
i gently touch your hand
because as night slowly walks
i need to be familiar
with all the ways
your beauty can make my blood cease to rush.
we pass desire to each other
like dutch masters on corners
with fingers flexing
having only felt each other up
in fleeting moments.
you and i
are consenting thieves
shaking down mornings for minutes
which we cover in lemon sugar
tamarind and the most explosive ingredient;
love that asks nothing.
but you are not a thief
you are love’s newest liberator
stabbing back with talons
to save yourself
and perhaps all i am is a battlefield
that you need to conquer.
when you and i
leave each other without breath
and your legs tremble, understand
you are a pirate queen
and i am too happy to assist you
in stealing back what belongs to you
love that asks nothing but to say, ‘here i am.’
you want your fairy tales
neat like firewater
wearing upturned glass skirts
that won’t tumble unless you say
but the beckoning night
that chills the corners of your bed
know different doesn’t it?
the evening that calls you out
understand there’s bigger wolves
than the one you construct
to sell those tickets for you
tickets to you showing parts of your ass
hiding the places raw and ripped by bad choice.
let the poison
you sip in compliments clear
like highball glasses bleed out?
or will you sit
and pretend the evening dusk
isn’t calling you to change?