7/23. Cocaine, from a White Couch in Harlem

at 4 in the morning (is it now?)
there are plenty of certain people
uncertain in this town; they’re in beds,
they’re not waving at the taxi
with its window open with me inside
and I’m not waving at them just moving
along toward my life and never really
touching theirs, but around here
the Certain people are stepping onto the Certain street under
the heavy-ish glow (landing on everything
and seeming to stick, disguise) of a B-A-R’s unimportant neon name
and it’s making your shirt hot pink
a light sweet enough to draw the fruit
flies from the wine glasses abandoned by the girls holding
each other’s
hands and throats. they’re pretty, standing
inside by the door distracted somehow from
drinking (how could that be,
it’s time to be under the light, and the girls
are still inside forgetting their wine?)
all the while the flies are happier than us
drowning in our poison baths
all of them dead with
their unchosen addiction
4am those who are stepping out
under the bar light turning that shirt pink and hot every shirt
every face, flushed and drunk, outside
on the skin of the town, the light seems to make you sweat though
there’s finally a cooling breeze tonight
at this hour in this town on a Friday
the boring
or terrified or content are asleep
but have not been unconscious
from whiskey
stomachs and sleepiness unaware
there are real bags heavy
under their eyes and we see them
I didn’t have a thought unique
enough to spell out quickly so
I worked it all out in my hands
like coaxing knots out of hair… careful
not to pull at the scalp which can bleed
I’m one year outside of the last person
I remember really thinking I was
and she’s so far away with all of it
except the music. still the one sound
that reminds me how
to remind the ears and
my own idle + packed memory
of the truest way to say
all that is true of what I am. I decided
to walk through the garden alone
hard like a thorn bursting a scab
while we passed through the roses



We’re talking about music
with no music playing

One year ago (tomorrow)
I wrote twenty lullabies
for myself
and Today, no sound
just promises full of time
and poor timing:

ex. A) I fell in love in the fall
and winter was a lesson in waste
and now summer suffers
sunlight cooking two hearts
in one pan
(skin oil + the crackle
of the Fry)
ex. B) Caught myself
before I was eight legs splayed
around a bloody core on the hardwood
hanging from my web
the other end of the line
stuck to a split-second

If there is an ex. C,
then it is me right now with a bottle
of wine screaming
into a tiny bag of white powder
I used to ski to control the Winter
now I let snow weigh down windowsills
and fill the sill-slopes
with cigarette asses

and what is summer
if not      just
a cigarette He can’t put down
the red tip hot as July


2:32 AM

5  18  16

You end up writing down new ideas
with a new pen. You end up writing
and it’s a start.
You’re writing to somehow
combine the old stuff
with the new and changing
and it’s full of whiplash
There was an angry girl
buying red wine by the park
and drinking it on a hill
and she was you with some
dwindling purpose
and she almost let herself die
You remember her
and combine her
with the new and the changing
and she lives and you live


Need to get more fucked up before any of the real stuff comes out and I know that, I already know that, but here’s how it always starts: the mumbling spittle, the shit that sticks nowhere yet it’s still sticky (useless therefore, and gross). I’m a little afraid of what’s to be written. Been a while for me. There are two more Xanax on the sofa and a beer wedged between the cushions and a not-quite-put-out cigarette stinking up the room, and there’s me too if you look close enough at the scene. Zombied-out in a hollow, humble empty-beer-can-(and bottle) castle, wearing a bra and an unbuttoned safari shirt (a few zebras on the shoulder, a lion falling right below the tit, the savannah looking more like oasis). Cocaine flame in the front of my face, hands hot and heavy like hammers left on the porch in the sun. There’s a sunset looming out there, not quite here yet but somewhere out there behind a sky that’s not just grey but thick, sturdy as construction paper held over the sun. Imagine that. Cover the sun with paper, wrap her up, maybe put a bow on that huge, feverish forehead. I’d gift anyone the sun if I could, if I could just get my hands on enough paper. And here I am looking for it behind that sunset – I’m awake and I’m alive. To be both things at once, and to recognize their momentary synchronicity, seems to prove my luck. Awake and alive, though there’s something else. I’m not sure what it is but it’s not here and part of me feels the unaddressed absence. Part of me. Not sure which part. I’m a fucked kid so far. I’ll get somewhere with this page. I don’t usually write like this, though I haven’t written in some time, so I suppose I don’t know how I should be writing. “Should be writing.” That’s it. I go out into it. Friday night and there’s a killer moon (red as a nipple) roasting us on the street below, my glasses lit like stoplights and the shadows burning dark as if fading deeper into night. This is a good moment. There’s red everywhere, and it’s coming from the sky, or the moon, or just the smog spot-lit from the sirens below, and all of us (the pedestrians, deli-goers, late-night cigarette smokers, going-homers) cross the block and go to our somewheres. A red glow, haunting, but warm despite the wind – I get home and the lights are on, everyone is home, music rocking me into blush, and through the window from my second floor apartment the street is still there, and the people are still there, and they’re red as moon, going.

end of the year

Smoking a cigarette in a room I’m treating like shit
and there’s a cloud of purple smoke, purple as
wet eye shadow on a melting face, and I don’t care
that it’s hanging there in the stale air
because life trades itself in over
and over again for itself but in new form
I gave up on this year a week before it ended but
my God I gave it everything. There is impermanence
in everything constantly and somehow you have to find
that comforting if not for the tumult
then for the consistency. This year I wounded myself
out of a coiled habit. But I live in this city again—

Woke at three pee-em with the sun waning
and some kids on the block were dressed as kids
meanwhile a late breakfast came and we looked
like matching shadows walking down into the train
Tonight I’m drinking rose from a goblet –
the pink wine, pink from the grape skin extracted
from what’s called the “skin contact method”
and I never said I’d keep my skin on
We humans are a giant mingling of creatures
sharing an unhappy secret unbeknownst to us
but some mornings I brush my hair in his shower
while he sleeps and I get all the knots out
I’m smoking another cigarette in this room
staring at a dress I bought today for six dollars
it’s hanging on the hook behind the door
tomorrow is new year’s eve and that’s why I bought it
and I ash in the tray at the bedside again


sitting on a yellow platform sodium lit and high as a light
a man kicks a cup of ice into the tracks
and the cubes clatter down to the street below, broadway
stinking of cold urine and b-grade pad thai
but i live down there, too
with the rats and the people and the ice
the train comes finally and it’s the wrong train
but I get on. the light on here is purple-white like
the dentist’s office, and I’m not
pulling my teeth anymore
about the commute nor the cold and
Lighting Is Everything when we’re talking
about sight — and tonight I’ll light a joint
looking out over the hudson from the edge of manhattan
blue and red lights scattered through the river
and for some time I will stand there smoking
despite the rain, despite the air feeling like cold sweat,
despite the cop with his window down my smoke
going right over his car, and there will be no sound
no sound across the iceless water or behind me
in that city — and no smell but smoke and sea
I’ll stand there in perfect light