vigil

you are a book

i have kept open

in dimmest candlelight

long past

the reason of midnight

ghost light

the moment he turned

and walked away

our world became peckinpah

i can no longer discern

whose blood

my hands are weeping over

old time religion

my parents were screaming

at each other

in Baptist curses

doors slamming

phones torn asunder

sounds of a home splitting apart at the roofbeams

my father throwing the floor model television out the front door

and one frightened sister

smuggling me out a bedroom window to another protective sister

that may not have all happened on the same night

it was so long ago &

this wasn’t constant

not your average weeknight at the Young’s house

but it’s always the first time

that matters most

on the perpetually wet streets of Clifton

10 pm
fresh out of sin
headed for a sip
in a bergamot tearoom
I became distracted
my January boots
compelled
to follow memories
through puddles of patchouli oil
stalls peddling shiny baubles
half finished dissertations
and bohemian postulation
stopping abruptly
at Biagio’s Bistro
fine Italian cuisine
featuring a gourmet dessert cart
a self service bar for the regulars
despite having
no customers &
a candlelit patina
covering
a thousand nights
spent ruining tablecloths
lovingly destroying
illusions
your every word brilliant
eyes alight
that saccharine fucking
Andrea Bocelli CD playing
on maddening repeat
my laughter too loud
for the intimate room
we were certainly doomed
our conversations
were always the wildest sex
i smiled remembering
into the fezziwig glow
of the old window
warmed by the fact
they still haven’t dusted
when
my ears perked alive
as suddenly crept
haunted sounds of
a minstrel show
a hand
strumming a guitar
your voice
in half notes
amidst sodium lamp motes
drawing me toward
that ancient apartment building
where you
serenaded me
I began to
swiftly seek
certain
I would find you
if only the source of the sound
was located
before the melody ended
rounding the corner
I found myself all alone
with weary dumpsters & brownstones
breathing clouds of longing
hair damp
with the scent
of dead pine wreaths
& recollection
because
truth be told
i miss my friend
so true without you
there will never again be
music for me
on the perpetually wet streets
of Clifton

high school interrupted

in the 1990’s

your flannel shirt

was a cultural ticket

that took you

greasy haired

through a graffiti pocked

bathroom stall door

to a grunge w├╝nderland

where herpes came standard

with every tribal tattoo

nirvana whining

about your libido

a mosquito

&

girlfriends untrue

your dreams will be

dry humped

in a Geo Metro,

Generation X,

your so-called life…

high school interrupted

…eating Pearl Jam until

Zima vomit came to the house party too

with green apple jollyranchers

attended by

your skankiest girlfriend

who smoked Marlboro Reds

with the acumen

of a triple divorcee

her eyelids

the trashiest

ice blue

kissing booth

bravado poet he was

and i dumbly followed

fully knowing

his titles were shit

with a snake oil smile

performative assholery

but it took a near death

blood loss event

near wild boar swamps

in an Arkansas tar pit

to see

the true excrement

was the content

of his character

such promise

it was a hot wednesday afternoon
i saw her downtown
this old high school classmate of mine
valedictorian of her class
hanging like a drying dish rag
on the pock-covered arm
of her fourth divorce

they looked like they had just driven in
from a northern shithole township
to taste
of the urban opioid market

oh,

merri smyth
merri smyth

full of
such
promise

please
tell me this

how is it
you are not
an astrophysicist

instead

a
mother of seven

living and dying
on public assistance

master class

i suppose you could say

i’m one of those people

who has seen more than their

fair share of things

you will certainly find

me adept

in a broad range of topics

from culinary techniques

to obscure music

embalming

comic books

addictive substances

and

lesser know shitty diners

of the northeast

some of it owed to college

and my need

to join the rat race too soon

mostly it was my proclivities

my insistence on taking

a master class

in dating old fucks

what an education

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