Saturday, April 2, 2011

Letter to Zak Rogers, 1999

(I miss this boy like crazy)

Dear Zaq,

I am still hours from NY. The train rattles by greenery and a cowboy with steaming hot Irish sits across from me dreading our arrival in the stinking city.

The train is dreadful for lonely people and alcoholics. They are boxed in and their faces over faces split and end up raw nerves, live wires exposed to the elements. The alcoholics find each other before the end of the first hours aboard, hands anxiously crushing Budweiser cans in hand, shaking hands, spreading out the cards and guffawing at each other's jokes no matter how bad.

The lonely might try a little more, put a little more effort in. They try the grumpy German Grandma next to them, but when she turns her face decidedly against them, forsaking their desperate speedy monologue for the raw, ugly industry of Indiana, they give up and wander to the lounge car and join the drunks.
My headphones barely hold them at bay. Ton Waits rolls his drunken moon songs over me and I try not to smile, stare blankly into the patches of green outdoors or my think, hard backed book that sits propped open between me and the world.

I go back to NY still hungry for greenery, starving for the drugging smell of lilacs in the dusk, in the evening as the sweat-lipped kids rush by on clipping Big Wheels.

I am still looking for silence. I drink it in from all the still waters we pass.

It was wonderful to see you, Zaq. You have to visit me in NY. It's frantic and beautiful and covered in a filthy fabric of voices and frying shish kabobs and bright saris kicking up midnight blue screaming parrot reds through subway tunnels packed with bodies.
Bodies bodies eyeballs smeared against walls pressed up against my ass stuffed down my shirt.

In subway cars the wheels rolling and rocking they dig deeper in.

Amtrack Train again: Old women are better than men with silence, with solitude. One hand on paper, lipsticked coffee cup, head nodding vaguely to the outdoors, one hand always on that cup anchoring they hold on.

I am dreading NY. Despite my rave reviews and love of its insane streets, I can't sit still there. It is hard to find peace. I need to learn how to find silence in it all. Only then will I be filled and whole.

In (the summer of Chicago) look for stink trees, as my dad calls them; trees of heaven, as my old neighbor Mrs. Jones called them. The city is built upon their name. They line the 'L' tracks and will creep in your windows while you sit sloppy with sweat on the living room couch.

I decided I can do whatever I want. I just need to set what that is.

Write me a letter back if you will. Don't if you won't. I am not suck a good letter writer anymore, but the train inspired me. Maybe it was my own loneliness popping its head up.

Zaq, take care of that girl with bruises all over her. Tell her to buy Vitamin C with bioflavinoids for the bruises. She is someone destined to get fucked up by those drugs. Her body so openly, so visually rejects it. Watch her, Zaq. I had a nightmare.


Friday, April 1, 2011

Sunday Sunshine

Birthday Poem for Jana

In the Sunday Sunshine
Splash, kids in the bath
and the green wraps
round wood banisters
and gives me breath.

It's spring again.
But the crush of black ice
and layer after wet sloppy
still sits on my chest and only the
small voices of your crocuses
can start to nudge me open
to warm again.

The ginger carrot soup, the
fiery North African spices
kept me above the water
but give me more of these spring days,
more violet light through the petals, yours
and I might come alive again.