Sure my hands grip the wheel,
anything to convince myself
I’m steering this contraption.
You sit beside me, neat as your
fingers around a cigarette,
as the coils of smoke
that rise to the ceiling,
pass through the metal.
The dashboard grins up at me
with a smorgasbord of lights,
nothing to tell me where I am,
just the speed of going nowhere,
how much gas i have left to get there.
Your last words zip by
like a sleeker, faster model,
shake me off course,
or shove from behind,
make me go faster
than my intentions,
then push hard against the front
like a brazen isometric
exercise in pain.
Mile after shattered mile,
another highway victim
counts his life into the statistics,
with caustic eyes,
And here’s you staring at the road ahead,
as if you are the only one
with a right to a destination,
and me, stunned and fearful,
these nights when the deer in the headlights
is the one driving the car.
It’s my favorite photograph.
The one taken of us in the back yard
of that famous Finnish architect.
Our guide struggled with her English
placing verbs before nouns in the clumsiest way.
The thick Scandinavian forest surrounded us.
It was mid morning in the middle of summer,
the light perfection.
What is it I see in our faces?
When I look at the photo now
Your arm is around my shoulder.
Your other arm is extended holding the unseen camera
pointed in our direction.
You snapped the picture not knowing
if the tops of our heads were cut off
or if we were out of focus.
In the end, it’s the clip of the crop
Sheared scissor-like in a metallic beak
Snatched away by long denim hands
Laid to rest in a ten-gallon bucket
Sloshing dazed and half alive
Your head just above water
Bobbing with your sisters
Like shipwrecked ladies at seas
Billowing in their petticoats
Full round heads red looking for a savior
But a rose in her element
Never thinks about the end.
i’ll tell you this.
the last time i burned rock in the glass dick
they found me in a santa suit walking up and down Military Trail
throwing bags of shit at cars and reciting Kierkegaard outloud.
i woke up in the drunk tank
in hallandale beach florida
next to a cuban tranny
who was urinating in my hair entertaining the other men.
the addiction you have
is replaced with the addiction to God.
The Twelve Steps.
a higher power.
i don’t know what’s worse
living in the suburbs paying bills and clocking in and out of a state job
mowing your lawn every friday
taking the kids and wife to the mall
snapping family portraits and sending them to grandma
or putting in a 12-hour shift on the kill floor of an abattoir
taking hits of whiskey during breaks
or smoking meth at happy hour.
(“oh how men suffer for children.”)
on the platform
waiting for the number 7 train
there’s a Jazzman
a real Jazzman
with road dust hair
and million mile eyes
digging the roots of cool for
cap-toed, flannel suited worker-bees
and those ladies who lunch
from Westchester and Rye
pushing thousand dollar Aprica strollers
their pretty Suburban feet
clickety-clacking to the beat
on the piss-stained subway floor.
silver bullets of improvisation
tear through the dirty skin
of the underground like shrapnel
explode against graffiti walls
and rain down on the deaf ears
of apoplectic suburban drones
only the rats and I
are a bloody
pinstriped parades of MBA’s
and dot.com commandos
with pocket change to spare
spin blindly by his half-full jar of “tips appreciated”
and all the while
blows hard notes
in a loud room
‘Trane and Prez and Parker riffs
Grand Central blues.