Saturday, May 14, 2011

An Old Poem About My Life in NYC Before The Earth Cooled

It is Times Square, a minute after midnight.
This guy comes up to me
with a story about money and getting home.
I’m saying and then he says,
but I’ve walked away far enough.
It was so quick, and now I'm not worth it.

All the time here
Counted down in handgun deaths
or Peep Show minutes.
The hours pour out like people from the bus station, blinking, confused.
The years marked on the street in bits of gum trampled into tarry spots
like a photo negative of the night sky.
And someone has taken the days, and rubbed out their edges.

There are too many lights to see the stars by, and know the season,
too much neon and flourescent.
You can’t even hear them all hum with the cars rushing in,
washing the sides of buildings with their headlamps' crawl.

The city can’t get to sleep; even the crumpled men in big coats
nodding off on subway trains,
get nudged up with black flaslights before they can begin to dream
and they wander, dreaming out loud,
telling anyone who glances
everything --
all of it running together
the way children talk when they’ve scraped themselves.
And their story is mine: it is all the bosses I ever had,
the thick heat of the mid-summer that made me forget where to go,
the delivery that meant fifty bucks, and the sudden job offer
disappearing just as suddenly,
the kind word from the powerful man that turned out to mean
nothing.

And all the old jobs and ex-girlfriends follow me around these streets
late into the night
because you shouldn’t go to bed angry
like you shouldn’t go to bed beaten.
You shouldn’t go to bed wondering what’s going to happen to you.
You shouldn’t go to bed ready to surrender
if only you could find the thing that had defeated you.
But it’s only time, and more time, and now it's gone.

12:30
Storefront grills come down
like tiny car crashes,
and I check my pockets,
count my money,
and go find somewhere to stay for awhile.

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