Monday, July 24, 2017

Only Then

Presiding over his own demise
But taking his time so no consequent
Ruinous outcome of this enterprise
Be allowed to disrupt too eruptively -- 

Wreak such abrupt surprise
That it gets in the way of the pleasures
Of slowly achieving the size 
Of a full dissolution, voluptuous entropy.
Only then might he test his surmise 
That destruction is also creation.

Only then might he meet God’s eyes.


Sunday, July 23, 2017

Caught the Tide

He liked her awkwardness,
the smudgy yellow light she’d throw.
Why she’d come he didn’t know;
she gave him reason, though,
to think it wasn’t likely she would go.
This didn’t worry him, he liked

that she was there. Something
in her seemed to alter his relationship
with light and temperature and air:
he wouldn’t have been able quite
to say it but with her mute
reassurances he knew that he was

not so much the child of atmosphere
as sibling to it. But what was he
to her, or she to him? He asked
her in the way they had devised
to speak so they could understand
each other – had to do with

cultivating delicate degrees
of rising, falling breaths – he asked
her what she was and what he was.
She asked him what he thought.
Are you my mother, soulmate,
supernatural protector? She said

she didn’t know what supernatural
could mean. And only volunteered
that she was something different
from what he had said. Will you be
with me when I’m dead? Am
I dead? She said she didn’t know

what dead meant. He found
this funny so he laughed. There
we go, she happily replied.
You’ve pushed us off the shore:
we’re on the raft. We’ve
caught the tide.


Saturday, July 22, 2017

Manipulate the Mask

Manipulate the mask.
Perhaps that’s all we ask.
Regenerate the sweeter falsity –
say, play the waltz that he

recorded on the radio
so long ago –
the rippling importuning of which
would attune most any ear to switch

the fear of love to love –
to reach the hidden dove
in every heart, induce desire –
in fact, require

that it soar out from its lair
and find its yearning there
and lavish every thought of him
with what it carefully had brought of him

to light and sound from silence in the dark.
That was long ago. The park
that they took walks in now
had taught them once just how

debilitating jealousy could be.
How zealously he
offered his abject remorse:
he’d had to change his course,

he said, he’d fallen for –
it didn’t matter who, the door
had shut. So what could bring
the hastily abandoned thing

of them together?
What still was here? A tether
tugged them back: they found the masks
they’d worn. They put them on. The tasks

they were to carry out appeared.
Behind their masks, their vision cleared.
This loosed the knot within.
And love awoke, forgot the sin.


Thursday, July 20, 2017

I Would Roll Out My Heart

You want to imagine the man can’t take care of himself
because putting yourself in his place is un-faceable.
With no show of ego or anything me-me-me else,
he is bent on becoming so famous he’ll be irreplaceable.

He’s living on water and slices of one-dollar pizza
and sleeps on the floor of a friend who’s no longer a friend.
Like a tzar’s star Muscovian courtesan, or his czaritza
who won’t, though abandoned as widows, emend

their belief they’ll remain the same glamorous beacons
of royalist beauty they’d been, he thinks of his duty this way:
convey your allure and ensure that its hold never weakens.
He will not betray what he’s meant to become: every day

rolls him closer to triumph. I would roll out my heart
as a sleeping bag, keeping him there every night if I could.
But he won't revoke his decision to turn into art –
won’t stop till he’s gone, like art, beyond bad, beyond good.


Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Love of Her Life

The love of her life
was requited today.
New York inspected her –
said she could stay.


Tuesday, July 18, 2017


Despite our trio-guard of alchemistic selves,
And force fields shielding us against all danger met head-on,
We find that, after all, through eon after eon, we’ve sped on
Without the least protection from the spells

Our expertise had been supposed more than reliable to cast
Against confusion, ambiguity, ennui, despair.
We’d been wracked by every pain and care.
Should we part? Will autonomy enable us to have surpassed

Those limits which in stuck collusion we could not approach
Much less transcend? No! Don’t let this end.
No self-reproach. We’re our own best friend.
Let’s apprehend a Psyche-Therapeutical Eternal Life Coach.


Monday, July 17, 2017

Where Coffee's a Prop & More's Being Served than Breakfast

exception that proves the rule: me eating kielbasa at Odessa, Ukrainian diner, 7th street & ave A, that does sometimes serve good food. (but still a NYC diner)


It's funny, I know that nyc diners are mostly closing but because the stalwarts around me - east village Polish ones and the 6th ave west village trio of them (central to which is the Waverly 'restaurant' at 6th ave, can't remember what the others are called but they're just south & north of that) and some on the upper west side when I'm up there for musical reasons usually - in other words, because that familiar landscape of diners is still goin' down it really hasn't entered my imagination yet that they could be disappearing.

There truly is nothing like a New York diner anywhere else I've been in this country or the world. It's a fascinatingly familiar place to us - whose obvious identity in fact is full of strange subtleties to anyone else, usually annoying ones. I have a friend from Singapore who can't stand them. Number one, the food is almost always meh. The coffee (to his mind and to many others used to the high-profile Starbucks et al models) is nothing but something to fill a cup and have in front of you as a prop. (Number 2 is you can't substitute, say, iced tea for coffee without having to pay for it. Numbers 3, 4, 5 I can't remember but he vociferously had them.)

But this to me harbors the real clue about New York diners, which I know I've gone on about before at length (I do go on at length about stuff don't I, often the same stuff), which is they're not about food. They're about providing a place for New Yorkers to be. Food is the ostensible reason to walk into one, and indeed over time you do tend to develop an affection for this or that reliable breakfast item, etc that in fact does taste more than okay, but basically they serve the same purpose as an oasis in the desert, where maybe you don't fill your 'camels' with water, but you do give them (& yourself) a place to sit down & -- breathe. When Reed and I go to a diner, which is frequent, we have extraordinarily deep-dive talks. I don't know what it is about the availing canvas of a nyc diner, but something about it is comfortably anything-goes. Which of course could be the generative password to NYC. When Florent was open - oh that amazing place! - it managed to mix the sense of New York diner with, in fact, quite wonderful food (I remember the steak frites thing as being terrific) and of course an inimitable cast of characters. So 'anything goes' had a maybe more theatrical reality at Florent, but it was never disruptive.

That's another core-of-the-heart thing about a NYC diner. It doesn't disrupt. Like New York as a whole, it doesn't take any particular interest in you: it lets you be. With a mixture somehow both of dispassion and warmth, it gives you a place to be and stay and - breathe. Great if you're alone. They exist for Hopperesque solitude. Great if you're with someone. In fact, Reed has been away coaching opera stuff in Colorado & just got back to Fort Greene. I shall scoop him up asap to haunt another diner. Which - hmm, wait a sec. Maybe this is the hopeful thing: most Fort Greene restaurants certainly aren't 'diners' but they do, like Florent did, manage to convey the same 'stay here & don't worry about it' feel that is a New York diner's artless and finest specialty. So we may have some 'good' food in a Fort Greene restaurant and still feel like we're in a diner. I think - I hope, I believe, I am all but certain - that as long as New York has the heart she has, she will (i.e., her inhabitants will) insist on that 'feel' in a neighborhood restaurant. It may be serving cous-cous - but if it's to survive in this city, it will have in some large measure to harbor the soul of a Diner -- and of a New York diner IN a Diner.

This all of course corroborates my larger hope, dream, certainty, fantasy - that is, my collective daily 'reality' - that New York at its core has really been radiating the same powerful identity since the Dutch arrived in 1624 - some strange mixture of Naples' 'don't-even-THINK-about-gettin-in-my-effin-way' & Paris' long sweet exhalations of amoral pleasure. First time I've invoked those cities in the same sentence. New York prods untoward analogies. Often over a meh cup of coffee in one of its iconic diners. Even if/when diners disappear, they won't have disappeared. Something will have their effect.