New York – March 2014
This is a frictionless world:
One night you’re here and the next gone.
And who picks up the pieces?
Did they even notice you exist?
But I loved her.
I loved the vertical stretch.
This little girl from the Midwest,
Peeking in on the other side of the fishbowl.
I, the little girl with the big suitcase,
Like a megaphone it called to the poor.
And I felt the city, just gasping,
Reaching for her next cigarette.
Sure, I asked for a picture with her.
She was deadly beautiful.
That’s just it. I had to ask,
Because I was an outsider.
I knew she never slept,
But heavens above, she was wide awake.
I hid my picture with her. Tucked it away.
I was a pale shadow held next to a sun-drenched prism.
She had a pub.
Irish. Lovely, dark, and joyful.
Beautiful in all the ways she wasn’t.
But I almost missed the act.
A spot of brushed veneer
Jutting from the glass and neon.
The band played folk
On beloved guitar and banjo.
The drinks flowed like water.
And the Gaelic burger,
It was the most real thing in the city.
But this wasn’t home.
Stumbling back out into her arms,
The boys picked up some liquor.
For me, she’s a strong enough drink.
Back to the polished hotel.
We go back huffing like dragons
Because her breath is icy cold.
And the bag man had a beard.
He asked us with his eyes. We all walked. “No.”
And I’m sorry. I’m sorry.
A million times sorry, but I was scared.
We traveled light, but there were funds,
Even though my pockets were empty. Honest.
No counterfeit for this city. No knock-offs.
She hunts you down.
You in your sweatpants and converse.
She knows you’re no native.
The bed was cloud nine,
But I’ve always been afraid of flying.
I remembered the elevator ladies.
All-business, only one said “Hi.”
They belonged here.
Suits and heels and nail polish.
Their very skin whispered “high fashion.”
It was carmel and lovely and all-business.
Four hours of sleep and a shower later,
Four tired bodies and their luggage spilled onto the streets.
It seemed that the city stripped naked.
She was a slate of grey and blue, peppered with skyscraper freckles.
And the elevator ladies were the only species left,
Except for the paperboys and the coffee shop crowd.
But we trekked on.
Oscillating legs headed for the bus.
The bus driver cracked some jokes
And we bared top teeth, lifting eyebrows in a nod
Best we could do.
We were bone-dead.
I slumped over in the bus.
My head hit the window and my eyes closed.
But I peeked to see what was left of her.
The sunlight was sweet like orange juice.
New York, baby.
The cabs and their honks ascended like ghosts.
There was no more laughing bustle or curses.
But those vampires would be back in a few hours.
She spread out in a king-sized bed.
A giant, a roaring lioness, and a movie star.
I wanted an autograph. She blew me a kiss.
But I thanked her for her time anyway.