the room in the high-rise Bronx apartment complex
is oddly comforting, with scalloped wood overlays in the
kitchen and 1950’s working-class luxury.
Carpet and ashtrays. Toy poodles barking.
(I could never afford it).
The sun comes up on an eastern vista of three building fronts merging.
In their windows, monstrous air-conditioning units cut black machine figures
against the rising light.
Stacked lozenge transformers throw blue sparks
(but inside, it is cool).
Everything is white- toned: the hills the house where the guys live with his mother and very steep. Vertical living. Aching melancholy in the whiteness.a loud pickup screams into the underbrush. There’s no way of knowing what goes on in the deep thickets. There are many rooms in the house and the guys keep up a running banter between them. The big one is openly hostile because I like the little one. A woman says “come live here.” she has a room covered by a sheet on top of Sand Mountain. There are loose white clothes, drugs and sadness. So: hash. We discuss. The grocery store has a woman twerking on the checkout belt in a swarovski minidress and nothing else.
out on the white mountain I kiss him. Finally. I am very gentle like with a wild deer. There is a trap door with a toilet that leads to the street. I need to find my mother. She lives around here someplace.
On the street that is a mega-highway then suddenly hallways I am still in the house. It contains all. Hallways lead to closets and then I am out and hit the ground and it is sand. I look to my left and I am on the ocean, turquoise to deep blue and a pounding sun. I start to cry.
Walking down the beach, I turn to memorize the house. It is a Victorian with a green tower, surrounded by snowbanks. Same with the place across the street—socked in with snow, except the army is there. Waving at me.
i’m in my car, ruminating. I used to see someone here. But still. Cloud-studded sky and dust devils. Jungle rot on the side. I lock the car.
wool hat busts his ass; his mouth slack while he stocks the shelves at high speed. Chicken patties. Chicken strips. The florescents vibrate overhead.
They have love songs now and conceal- carry permits. his speedy impatience and small hands. He’s smaller than I remember. Back in the day As he put it to me years ago, had no reason to come back.
“I mean, why would I want to?” i stood there: paralyzed. We are packed like sardines in the train to the east coast after riding the subways all night in the reversible seats to get here.
I sleep with the cats.
the round hotel room with glass walls turns on its axis every hour to show downtown Newark. On one rotation: a deer in a winter tree climbs down and walks away as the room turns.
A large wolf outside the glass.
His chuff breath.
Fuzzy Bob is beside me.
“Oh”, he says, “The Wendy. Wonder what the fuck they’re doin’ here? Those guys are good friends of Tony.” He puts the toluene rag up to his mouth . When he doesn’t have it he gets mean. I’ve seen it. I stay away from him then. Everybody does. He gets it in barrels from Hyannis. His brother, Chuck , told me that. Just sayin .I cross my arms and watch the boat come in. There’s some bastard standing in the bow, looking freakin daggers at me the whole time. Like holding my freakin gaze. Damn what’s his problem? The water a green churn under a leaden sky. Whitecaps and bitter cold.
“Are you gonna catch my bow line, or are you gonna just stand theah?” The guy. So I go down and catch his bow line, throw it over a piling and get back up the ladder to the damn loading platform. Christ.
The steel winch cable at low tide is stretched, twenty feet easy down to the deck. I go to the edge of the platform and look down quick. it’s far. I mean really far. we’re unloading in a driving storm. at low tide. and this friend of the married guy I’m screwing has real attitude with me. Whatever. The guy, the captain, the big chief moral high ground New England asshole makes it to the platform .He looks at me. Impatience and disgust crackle off him like it’s his aura or some fuckin thing.
He goes: “Do as I say. When I say ‘up’ I want you to hit it hard. I don’t wanna be here all fuckin day.”
(Well all rightie then.) I hit the switch and the winch is now at full throttle. Let’s see you work, motherfucker. Catch this box. The 125pound box of fish and ice flies up, fast and this guy swings the boom, pulls it in. no problem. One after another, straight-up and fast. All he says is “up” when the guy below has it ready to go. The wind is blowing like a tornado. Whatever. Then we’re done. The boat is unloaded. The harbor wind cuts to the bone.
“You’re good on that winch.”
At the bar. Tony’s gonna blow me off again. Suddenly his skinny legs in clean jeans. Sherpa-lined jean jacket, cowboy boots and cologne. He starts at my feet and works his way slowly up with his dead his brown eyes.
“Hey, bitch.” his white false teeth. his black and curling beard.
One fine day and it’s all over past the initial flameout and into a new life. I am so much better now. How are you? I am fine. The snow tires are fabulous. I lean over the counter the personification of weary acceptance and something electrical hits me some kind of glow emanating wtf it is him and he looks at me full-on and I jump back. Goddamn if he isn’t grinning all puffed up when he catches my eye from across the room. (the shirts with the exclamation point. Halos of light surround me)
I will put the flower on your door. in an air-conditioned car there is a small infernal byway in the college town the guy moves down the street in the blast furnace satin black racing jacket his scorched yellow hair a halo around his pallor I see him and we have a recognition but still under the shade of a tiny tree. the door slams and bill walks on by this week, he looks for me or maybe not there are miles of furnace haze baby please don’t go. the sound his fabric makes against the seething asphalt sag-jean shuffle and hair tucked into black hoodie. the shock of him. hills race away under the scorching sun. at the light, the old man gives it the gas. on main street churches patched with plywood over stained glass. the man saunters above the shimmering pavement on the portal road of the infernal byway: black silk jacket and a corona of yellow straw hair frames his ghost face, slit eyes and a smile of recognition at me.
“look at a picture,” I say, but no. stopped in traffic in front of the liquor store I swear I didn’t make it happen.
This moment is all we have, they say.
Yeah, yeah. I mean, really: charming and vacuous
but not you.
Vine-choked tree still alive
the peony is still there.
The air conditioner is in your window.
You are the night. You are the small cloud that goes before me.
it is 206 F on top of the world. The world is in a heat haze. Houses miles below me. I drive.
It is 206 on top of the world. The house a brown adobe mansion. Magenta blooms pierce like blood.
It is 206 on top of the world. Wiccan Liz took my job. There is always a Wiccan Liz who will take your job.
my blue car
idles in the upstairs bedroom. Harold’s car does the same
in the living room.
harmonic convergence of
climb the cliff.
“here to deliver these planks.”
put ’em upstairs.