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Diners and Midnight Poems in NYC

Check with restaurant for photo credit/unable to find on internet

Rope tricks

Lassos, lariats, braided voices coming, like lapping

Waves, forming one on top of the other, from the cave

corner space where they keep the Coke bottles.

Table, old men, restaurant coffee cup, quiet interrupted

By a story of someone who died while on vacation after

Having worked thirty years without fail.

Booth, ladies in pressed dresses and gloves, purses opened

To the tissues and the butter scotch candy in the sweetened

Wrappers that stick to fingertips.

Counter stools, lonely men mostly, no looking around, straight

Ahead glances, noting how many straws in the straw box, smiling

At the waitress as she picks up.

Register near the door, try to run without paying and a shotgun

crosses your thighs, you think I am kidding, just try, just try, old

lady did not survive the war to take your huff.

Everything in order, just the way it’s supposed to be, like ironed

Shirts starched and ready in the box, where no one cares that

You can’t rope like you used to back then.

The Outsider: Notes

A glance that flickers like an old spool of film

Missing its spindle’s track.

A silence measured on a spectrum that starts

At distrust and ends at maybe.

A vocabulary of one syllable responses keeping

Everything clear and distant.

A dress and accessories that create a wall not so

Much impenetrable but sort of.

A walk with slow steps that keeps people from

Catching up in reverse.

A head and body strut tight and coiled, squeezing

Out emotion as it slithers.

A heart unknowable as it does not know itself, an

Organ necessary for life like a liver.

A mind that sized it all up and decided that being

In was not worth the time.

Not the Nowhere Man the song was written about.

A stranger only a danger to himself.

By himself, for himself, through himself, around

Himself, alone himself.

Grand Inquisitor with his temptations to bear:

Should I turn stone to bread?

You can find him everywhere a cop is beatin’ up

A guy, where a hungry child cries.

Along the by ways where freedom is drying up

And dying like a parched arroyo.

I am not afraid, she said. One life is all I have and

I will live as I believe, today, tomorrow.

Longfellow understood that a man may seem cold

But may only be sad.

The outsider is a shadow without a body to claim,

Living on Jung Street near the dead end.

There are no initials to which he answers, being

Not of gender or race or color bound.

At the window, disappearing just as you catch

His glance and write your notes.

The saved receipts of sidewalk songs

Midnight or there abouts, smells of the

Day rolling up, evidencing the drunken

Dreams that create bubble rainbows

Along the cracked and crumbling side

Walks of the Lower East Side.

Meeting earlier that evening, at the

Party thrown by the institute that

Promised to eradicate social problems

If only we donated but what could two

Recent graduates give?

We gave what we could. We gave each

other each other and walked hand-in-

hand to the door leading to the park.

Not even out the door you began without

Prompt or consideration.

First, it was the show tunes. You knew

Them all. I yelled out a request and

You took the assist to the vocal bucket

With the confidence of Steph Curry

Shooting downtown threes.

But it was when we got to the park bench,

Where the two spires created the movie

Skyline that appeared like so much cliché,

That you started singing Leonard Cohn as

If he’d patched a hole in your heart.

Close eyed I listened as your pew songstress

Serenade created a cathedral of anxious memories

You had now changed into possible dreams. A

Few hours passed, friend-in-friend, promises

Made to never lose touch.

Others who hear me recount the night, invariably

Caution of Voltaire’s Pangloss’ sugary optimism,

Rear view mirror memories that embarrass not

Just the players but the true intimacy of a time

And place best left in the past.

To them reveries are hummed on sidewalk

Saunters where they, like city noises, disappear

Into memory, fading, dated receipts you keep

but for some reason can’t part with and only

you remember indelible reasons why.

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