Eastons

Eastons

You don’t know the first thing about who you are
I doubt I’ll come much closer much sooner
Than anyone else who’s ever really tried

Oh well

You don’t know beauty when you see it
Unless you see it in the old light of a sun long since
Gone never to be remembered except by staring 

At a photo of us in grades eleven and twelve smiling in October
Staring for the last time at the painted frame now in the 14th grade and
Placing us in a black shoe box and then placing that shoe box on the floor

Next to several old pairs of shoes that happen to include those stocky cleats
Built for stocky boys to run around in for a few hours every night for a few months every fall}
As they fall on poorly called plays under the weight of stockier boys heads steaming in the cold

Lineman cleats purchased on sale at the mall with your father for $30
To later be worn on the all-purpose-astro-turf field of
Our future rival high-school (grades 9-twelve) 2 years

Before you were in high school and you can recall how at
13 you wore them cheap and filthy onto the field with pride
And how you won that day that championship at last handily

You wonder if any of your coaches fathers husbands got drunk that night
As you their sons players hopes slept after a day of frozen facemasks crushing small fingers
And if they had promised themselves they wouldn’t drink
And if they did anything they regretted once they had
And if they got into arguments with moms wife cheerleaders
And if they cried harder than if you had lost though they would have
Pretended not to for your sake as you know you would have been expected to
Weep but you did not lose and maybe they did not get that drunk
And maybe they did not raise their voices in anger but in joy and joy alone 

Eludes you always because you put it away in an oversized black shoe box
Along with other memorabilia including other less dramatic more colorful photos of us in fall
And notes mostly notes written on lined paper mostly written in grades eleven

And twelve which is oddly were you find yourself with increasing and startling frequency
Grades eleven and twelve and perhaps you think of them more often than you should
Don’t taint that halcyon time with unheeded reminiscence 

Don’t open that black box of that time those times in parking lots and
Twin sized beds don’t go there and never in fall
Again to your knees remembering separate memories 

Now bound by unknowable neurons that fire far too close together
And always in fall separate them ponder them apart from one another
They we do not belong together were are should be 5 years apart

You are not 13 and we are not 18 and we are not bound by anything stronger than memory
Though now these memories have met grade 7 meets eleven and twelve
For the first time and will not forget them

They are together now and they are always there
And maybe you are there now
And maybe you promised yourself to leave
And maybe you are very bad at keeping promises you never really make to yourself
And maybe you can still feel that primordial October always October on your face
In November or even sometimes April when you stare into a candle or 21
Candles soon in grade 15 which comes fast and still faster
September falls to October falls to November
Which opens its mouth wide to expose our many months of white teeth

Which you lost 7 of in grade 7 when you were still 13 on a day in snow
In most likely January but also possibly February sitting in a leather metal chair
Wearing the leather and felt yellow and green jacket won 2 or possibly 3 months

Beforehand wearing those cheap filthy cleats that now sit on the oak floors of my
Bedroom next to that box that I filled past filling with you always in disbelief
That I somehow ever walked onto a field in fall and hurt someone badly for fun

Pretty Thing, More Than All

Pretty Thing, More Than All

There was love
in my ladies house
and there is
but I feel it not

When it rains
I do hear her voice
but she’s not
but some falling rain

I fold her
with my fevered lips
but she’s more
than my thousand words

I wait now
for her quiet sound
and I know she
will call my name


9.18.16

THAT IS ALL

THAT IS ALL

LOOK AT ALL OF THAT WHICH YOU WILL NEVER HAVE

YOU ARE NOT WEALTHY 

YOU ARE NOT BEAUTIFUL

YOU ARE NOT YOUNG

NOW LOOK AT YOURSELF

ARE YOU PRESENT?

ARE YOU HONEST?

ARE YOU HAPPY?

THAT IS ALL

THAT IS ALL 

THAT IS ALL

Dust

Dust

Never have I seen dust
as beautiful as the day
I came to visit,
floating in and out
of the light
above your tights
your drying jeans
and landing
occasionally
on your forehead

2.6.16

Naked Neighborhood

Thanks to those of you who've actually been reading these all month.  Now that April's over I'll be posting older poems every few days, so don't be strangers to this little part of the internet, ok? Ok. Cool.

This last poem for April, now on the first (or is it the second now? what time even is it?) of May, is about being naked and surrounded with neighborhood memories. 

 

Naked Neighborhood

Misty December evenings
are the best times to
fly in the buff
radiating steam and
puffing like a fleshy train
bound for some dewy suburban pasture

I found myself almost greeting
the day’s second hour
hounds round my knees
staring past my fence
and into my newly-wed
neighbor’s yard
wondering if they’d left their lights on
to ward off intruders
scant and timid though they may be in this town
or if perhaps their newly
yellow house–
once a lovely grayed white
once smoke-filled and
carpeted with cigarette burned shag
burns that I always thought
were stationary insects
whenever I would stop
at the door of my
newly necromancible neighbor
to collect off-brand lollipops
on Hallowe’en–
was lit so that they
waking, walking
could see

I bet on the former
and removing first sweater
then shirt
then shoes
then socks
then pants
then underwear
leapt over the fence

The earth, soft still
from evening rain
came up through my marble toes
and I set out across
my neighbors’ drive
through their yard–
eyes ever on their windows–
to the far reaches of their plot
covered in a quickly regrowing ivy
behind their garage

I always hated mowing
that portion of the yard
when my neighbor was 40 years older
and bound to that home
banned from driving after
the day in 2010 when
she struck our dogwood
in her 1974 AMC Hornet;
I have, probably, mowed these
new neighbors’ yard more than they
ever will though probably not as
many times as will the Mexican men
they now employ

Safe behind their garage
heart pounding
I began bounding
to the next yard over
snapping twigs unstealthily
with my already numbing feet
cold and clumsy
with no fence to hop
no lights to speculate upon
and another shed to store myself behind
but that yard, though fifty feet
from my own for all my life, was
not one I was familiar with:
dirt like clay all around
and flagstones leading along
the perimeter
to the third fence
this time an intersection;
Four Corners here in suburbia
of four neighbors who almost
certainly know each other by fence
alone

Gingerly I stepped over
the chain links, careful
not to snag anything important
and slipped further from safety
catercorner to the yard previous
which, as I turned to reflect, I
realized was more familiar
than I had originally given it credit for
for at once I remembered
the trampoline
that stood just there
by the flagstones
before the garden
and on which I would jump
and jump and jump
until the day my trampoline-
owning friend fell between the
springs and split the skin of his
ankle wide, a bright red triangle
coming quickly after– 
a moment I remember as a
dream that then came to me
leaning naked on their fence

Not much further could I go as
I gazed ahead and saw
past the yard between two homes
the sidewalk
the grassy median
the street lit by sodium burning
its white-orange way through the night

Fueled by my own
naked flight that street
became my finish line
and towards it I crept, up
the shadow cast by a wide old oak
from the dim deck lights of the home
standing on the yard’s south
side, separated from
it’s neighbor by perhaps
thirty feet of wet grass
and dead garden
and with bare back soon against bark
I made eyes with a tall hedge leaning up against the
south-side house and stepped towards it
feet sinking deep into the muddy garden soil–
imagine the discovery of my size
ten bare footprints
the surprise
the mystery
the fear
who would forgo footwear in these times?
a madman surely!

Perhaps they'd be right

But no sooner than I had made my
mark in their garden, not ten feet
from the shade of the shrubbery
did a light come on, powerful and sudden!

Shit!

Shit shit shit!

All pretense of stealth ejected I dashed
skin now luminous
to the deeper shade of the oak;
a ghostly spectacle that must have been: 
a flash of white, ghoulish lanky limbs
disappearing in the shadows, oh
how my heart beat then
I could see it through my chest
pounding through veins all exposed
under the thin white paper of all my skin
now shaking with nerves and cold

After a moment I peered from the
shadows’ safety and with
a sigh realized that I had acted
like nothing more than
a lumbering raccoon
scampering from the motion-sensing
chameleon eyes of halogen bulbs
or a foal taking flight in surprise
leaving behind a tomato in the summer
soft and red and spattered with dirt kicked up
in the heavy rain of late evening

Understanding my true place
in the hierarchy of the suburban night
I continued my retreat
across the lawns of my neighbors
disheartened at falling short
of the finish line, but
better, I say, to fall short
than to become the neighbor
that the whole borough knows
runs through town naked

Mulch

Mulch

It seems impossible
that friends so perfect
should drift so far apart
after countless summers
spent swimming and swinging,
conquering the mulch pile
my mom always had for us,
its steam rising and warming
our bare feet on the driveway


How did those bonds
get ’barrowed off?
When were our feet
hosed clean of the
dirt and the weeds
that held us so close?
When did our fates, 
once so impossibly tied
together
come falling, irreparably,
apart?


We were young then
as we are now,
but our towns have changed
and our minds with them
The west calling one
the city the second
and the third still thrashing
in life’s heavy sway
with our mulch
and its maggots
so unbearably
far away

 

11.2.15 - 4.29.16

Explosions in the West

Explosions in the West

Every few nights
it looks like New Jersey
has finally exploded

but when I realize it’s only
the sun finally setting,
I thank my never-

setting stars that
here in the West
I never truly worry

about Hoboken
getting blown to bits
and can instead

write a poem about
setting suns and
west-side highways

or even the President
or even the virtues of communism
or even you

and no one bats an eye.

 

4.26.16

Hornless

Hornless

With breath bated
and blade by heart
you stare from behind
those big glasses,
green eyes level
like the matador
you’ve become

But though
I am no bull,
though I am
only boy,
hornless, I remain
utterly maddened
by your colors

 

10.11 - 4.26.16

Over Bedford Courts

                  Over Bedford Courts

        Back                and                forth

      tennis               balls                fly

        over                nets                stretched

                           in the sun
                       above red clay

      again                and                  again

 

                           4.25.16

C Scent

C Scent

The C
with a mushroom sticker
on it’s window
smells surprisingly good
for this time of night

As if
the perfume of the model
posing above my head
has somehow diffused
through the train car

covering
up the stale smell
of one thousand or so
sweat-covered shapes
entering, exiting

sleeping
or maybe even living
on the blue benches
around the silver poles
of this C

 

4.24.16

Walk in the Sun

Walk in the Sun

Walk in the sun
with me some
and we’ll talk
of our love
and the trees

We’ll walk
down avenues
and streets.

And though you
can’t stay long,

I’ll play you
a song,
so then we’ll
both know 

just where
in the sun
to meet.

 

4.22.16

The Traveler

The Traveler

Confused and hungry
he steps out the door,
doesn’t know where
he’s going yet
but he’s hell-bent
on getting there

His eyes are red
but he sees
only in technicolor, sees
the black man blue
the white girl red
the yellow boy purple

He claws his way
tooth and nail and tongue
through the streets
among the urchins
all the way to the 7/11
two blocks uptown

for a pint of ice cream
a bag of bugles
a rainbow flavored slurpie,
and perhaps, 
even a rare shred
of happiness

 

10.28 - 4.20.16

Kids

Kids

We were just kids.

It was dark
and he was scared.

He didn’t know what he was doing
and for that matter,
neither did I.

I forgave him then
as I do now,
and I think
he’s forgiven himself too.

I just wish the world
would do the same.

 

4.19.16

Woman

I've missed a day or two, I guess things have been busier than expected, so here's a little guy dusted off from a few months back.

Woman

I don’t even know
what a woman is
let alone
how to love one.

2.1 - 4.18.16


 

 

Stand Each Other

Stand Each Other

She’s sitting on his bed
and the two of them are yelling
He’s raising his voice
and she’s shedding her tears,

“We never had this conversation”
“We had it right here
a year ago
a life ago
now it’s time to go,”

and they can’t stand each other’s pain

There’s a thud on the wall and
I’ve begun to cry
“This, right here, is the fucking problem”
My nightmare’s dream of love

 

1.15 - 4.18.16

Saturday

Saturday

Something in the air today.
Something in the wind.
Everyone’s walking slowly.
Something’s waiting to begin.

Hell if I know what it is,
but it feels like a latent electricity.

Like how the air goes still
before the thunderstorm collapses.

Like the time the fry shop blew up.
Everyone running around.
Everyone watching the smoke rise.
There were fire engines for miles down every block,
I swear,
and camera’s hopping barriers all around.

It was nice.

Just like today.
Alive, human, and warm.

 

4.16.16

Blurred Beauty

Blurred Beauty

Watching without glasses
the abstract passage of life
in the park, with the sun
dancing on the backs of my eyes

is like rising from the water
off New Jersey’s coast
to see your figure sprawled
on the sand of the shore;

it burns my eyes in the way I love
and though senseless and vulnerable,
I become filled with joy
untamed by reality.

 

4.16.16

Girl,

Girl, 

you forgot your pen on the subway bench.
You dropped it on the Queens bound R train
between Jay and Court,
and it slid behind my back.

I don’t really know how you missed it fall,
but maybe you didn't,
and your smile on the platform
was a smile of more than just courtesy.

Part of me wanted to mention this.
But when I reached down to grasp your ink,
I couldn’t feel a thing.
My heart was beating too quickly.
Then you got up,
and left me at Whitehall.

Now I have the cheap blue tube
sitting on my desk.
It’ll probably never write again,
but at least I know that maybe someday
you’ll come looking for it.

 

4.14.16

New Car Smell

New Car Smell

Cars don’t smell like anything
but new anymore.

Not oil.
Not gasoline.
Not exhaust.
Not rust
Not old cheeseburger wrappers.
Not spilled milkshake.
Not leather polish.

Even as they age,
and new cars
become old cars,
they do not rust,
they just catch fire
until they and
their brothers and
their sisters
are taken back to
their birthplace
to be replaced by cars
that don’t smell
like anything
but new.

 

10.15 - 4.13.16

Carved

"I'm gonna write a letter. I'm gonna sign my name. Like a patient on a table, I wanna walk again. Gonna move through the pain."

Carved

Like a patient on a table
I lay there motionless,
waiting for movement to return
after the frenzy and sweet delirium, 
waiting for the knife, the cold,

your voice
your breast
your hand with thin
latex covering each nail-shod
finger touching my temple,

feeling the plates of my
skull and eating your meals
off them.  I loved you
then more than I care to

remember the time we
laughed at how I tripped
then screamed as I fell
into traffic?

And the way you
sewed me up and tightened
my many weeping sutures?

And the way I wept of joy with them
because I felt your touch then
as I did on our table?

And how despite every anesthetic
I felt every touch

every puncture
every promise

every kiss?

 

1.16 - 4.12.16