At Five A.M.

At Five A.M.

 

I have a bird behind each knee one

is always in panic. the other, most often

asleep. – Marty McConnell

 

When I couldn’t find my favorite pen, I broke

seven mason jars. (Ten If you count the three

I glued back together like eggshell shards.)

I found my way to the computer to change the

song but forgot when I got there. I watched

Law & Order, wrote half of a poem, and maxed

out each of my credit cards. It was August but

my new winter coat was due in Friday by noon.

The sunrise stomped on stilettos, unwelcomed.

When the cat was a kitten she had it out for a

fly outside my window and yanked the curtains

down. They had cost me half a month’s rent and

were still lying dead where she left them on the

hardwood/rug/ thrift store dumpster dive. There

were ripped checks and ripped tights and a

beehive. Roach clips and a marmalade bush and

some mouse shit. My drawers were crammed

with shorts that have never fit and topped with

molding ham sandwiches that appeared to have

tentacles. All of my underwear had period stains.

I walked to the bodega to scan for rats and buy

soda for breakfast. Or,

 

Slept through seven alarms.

Missed work again.

Ordered more pizza.

Tacked a sheet to the wall.

Stitched my skin to the mattress.

Clutched tight to the bong.

Ignored every phone call.

Pissed the bed. Stayed.

Steeped in it. 

thoughts while pissing on a dumpster outside the Brooklyn Public Library

my mother (a principal) calls it “going
wee-wee.” My father calls it “pishin,” no
doubt a vein of the farm his parents
once lived on. My worst ever baby-sitter,
Candy, who my spite is still coddled by
12 years later, called it “tinkling.”
But I have no pretensions, and
when it is against a dumpster outside the
Brooklyn Public Library, the only appropriate
phrase for what I am doing is “taking a piss.”

                                    #

I’m not even drunk right now. Though it
is 4 a.m., and I did just force two
plain donuts down my groping gullet
(poor things, they didn’t even taste good).
But my eyes are not lusty, I do not
feel invincible (quite the opposite,
in fact), and I am not plagued by
breadloaf hiccups, so I am mostly sure
I am not drunk.

                                    #

I hope no one catches me, out here,
with my wiener in my hand. At best,
my penis is usually a wiener. It is
rarely a cock. Right now, it is
definitely a wiener.

                                    #

If I were stopped by the police
right now, could I rightfully
call that “getting busted,” or is
that phrase saved for buddy cop
movies and Law and Order?

                                    #

If I were to be busted by the cops
right now, would the proximity of
my uncovered wiener to the public
library merit a sexual misdemeanor?
Even if I am 95 percent sure the
library is closed? Would it help
if I told them how disappointed
my parents would be? Or said,
“no way I’m a sexual predator-
some of my best friends are kids!”

                                    #

Could I blame it on Miley Cyrus?

                                    #

I feel constantly unimpressed with
how cold New York doesn’t get in
summer, despite the bi-weekly storm.
I always carry a jacket
in my bag just in case. And
because I like how I look in a jacket
more than not in a jacket. If I
were wearing a jacket right now,
it would probably help to cover my
wiener. But, because it is 80
degrees out, and not raining,
I would probably look more crazy.

                                    #

The question of covering one’s
wiener or looking crazy is the
biggest issue America faces today.

                                    #

(PARENTHETICAL ONE:
Shout-out to Carlos Danger for making
a poem about dicks into a political statement,
even though I didn’t mean to.)

                                    #

(PARENTHETICAL TWO:
You know poetry has come a long way
when there are shout-outs in poems.
You don’t know in which direction.)

                                    #

It would be so easy to mug me right
now. But, even a mugger may be
hesitant to approach someone in my
current position. If I were a mugger,
I would not choose the man with his
wiener in his hand if there were other
immediate options.

                                    #

Who did you picture when I said
“a mugger”?

                                    #

I have a library card and pay taxes,
so maybe I’m entitled to this.
Plus, it feels really good. Despite my
fear of getting caught or mugged.

                                    #

I fear that nothing could possibly feel
better than this incredible release.

                                    #

I fear that when I die, this will be
the only poem you remember.

                                  ###

In The Dustpan

 

When you made for the mountains

like a millennial beatnik with a slingshot

in your heart, a couple of bucks in your

 

pocket and a car with a st-st-stutter start,

I didn’t weep on a dirt road in a windblown skirt.

I knew better than to align myself with your rearview. 

 

When your tires spat up earth that stuck

in my teeth, I didn’t brush them for weeks.

If the devil is in the dustpan,

 

than the details are in the broom

and each delicious grain of us has been twisted

into bristles. You go.  I’ll clean up soon.

 

I’ll untangle from the dust bunnies and cat hair

each moment you’ve made me feel seen,

pinching gently with my fingertips (as you did

 

with the knotted pearls at the nape of my neck

at the edge of my bed at six a.m. last Halloween).

I’ll fashion an alter not unlike a billboard.

 

I’ll return all of your favors.

I’ll hang myself so high on the horizon

that you’ll have no choice but to drive

 

straight on into me. I know

your bright stings like a high beam and I know

there is no such thing as a well-lit goodbye

 

so I know I’ll be seeing you. When the light

turns green.  When the floors are swept.

When my teeth are clean. 

bestseller

in a small room nestled
tightly in the crevice
of a rock-and-roll jukebox
and a statue of George Washington,
the Poets made a nest of a few old couches
and packed their shoes tightly
with the newspapers and coffee stains
they had written their latest works on.

a large quilt was knit with the jackets
they had left at the door,
and was currently being used as a
facsimile Persian rug for the Poets
to stand on. as they each removed
their shoes, to retrieve their fresh
picked verses, they rubbed their socks
against the carpet in order to power
the lights. Everyone wore wool socks
for this purpose, and as it was summer,
they were all too happy to let their feet
breathe anyways.

one man came
dressed as Hercules, and he was kind enough
to strip off his lion’s head and
add it to the patchwork rug.

Spare electricity was beamed out
the lion’s blue glass eyeballs.

the Reading progressed as normal,
but during a particularly rousing
performance of an interpretation of
Ozymandius, s foreign yellow light
entered the room, with no consideration
of what was happening therein.

my first guess was it was Elijah
the Prophet, yet others seemed
to think it was merely a being
trapped between dimensional planes.
luckily, the mystery was cleared up
when we heard a tin voice shout,
“smoke,” somewhere nearby,
punctuated by the siren of a fire engine.

still, the Poets and I, after a real,
legitimate vote, decided to continue
as planned. after a few more
pieces were read, the first lick
of yellow flame declared its
presence from underneath the
floorboards. The lion head lit up,
burning, but the combination of
the blue light it cast and the
saffron embers threw such a pretty
emerald on that moment’s reader
that we just could not leave at that
exact moment. The green light
was particularly appropriate, as this
poet was reading from her nature series.

when it was my turn to read, the room
was pregnant with the lusty flames
and I quickly edited a dramatic
jump through a window into my poem.
Unfortunately,
immediately after my theatrical exit,
the building gave in to the fire,
which kissed the moon once goodnight,
and then sucked itself back into
the ground. I had barely just escaped,
and my pants were thoroughly singed,
but I knew full well the task at hand.

and so, I compiled all the greatest
works of the Poets, and published
them in a posthumous anthology.
the Book, tastefully laid out and
full of tragedy, was compared
by critics to the works of Plath,
Van Gough, and Bukowski. My publisher
removed the short poem I had written
and inserted, as it tainted the overall theme.
I was disheartened, but agreed
with this decision.

The book was a New York Times
bestseller.

no parking Sunday

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.

the jar on the table outside

I shoved the entirety of my thumb
into the warm, sunsoft candle.
the quicksand wax made lover of my hand,
a burning smother, a warm coat,
the peeling paint of an unkept home. I
thrust deeper. my clenched fist filling
the jar, wax oozing out edges and
impotent dribbles slothing away from
my fingers. the container became one of hand,
of flesh dyed orange, of digits
surrounded by sculpture, wax harden,
carved approximation of man. I probed
secrets out of the candle, of smoke,
liquid, scald, whisper
the way the wick whispers to me:

“Melt.
Melt.
Melt.”

my fourth floor walk up

In Brooklyn,
the apartment becomes a hotel.
A day passes and a new suit case
appears at the side of the couch,
the bed pulled out or
sheets haphazardly tossed over
three chairs. A spare
set of keys
passes through one thousand hands,
smelling hints of Boston, rubbing
against California beach, licking
Carolina. Slices of bread
go missing, but are paid back
in bottles of beer huddled together
at the base of the fridge.
Even the crows on the roof
stay for only a few hours.
Mosquitoes spend whole lifetimes
trapped in the bathroom, but
even these cohesive existences
are brief.
Sounds, too, make their presence known
only long enough to be noticed.
A child’s shriek (of joy or pleasure,
I do not know), an ice cream truck’s
wailing call, bastard motorcycles
Smells do the same.
Garlic stench making the brief voyage
from the street window and out mine,
we warn our guests
that garbage picks up Monday,
and to keep the windows closed.
Various things fall into disrepair,
a chair missing its back
is forlornly wheeled across the room
to be burdened with innumerous bare
feet. papers get taped to walls
and doors become muraled with notes
saying, “thanks for the visit.
be back soon.” I keep
an extra toothbrush and paste
and these are used often, toilet
paper is bought in bulk,
spare phone chargers are hidden
in drawers of toothpicks to be pulled
out at a moment’s notice. It is
like living with ghosts, and all
these people pass through walls and
windows, leaving and taking what
they will. and like the ancient
medium, I play host to so
many bodies, a collection
of wanderers
leaving marks
on the apartment in Brooklyn.