Chapbook: Regreso (May 2013)

Regreso

All your previous flights have been overnight morning arrivals
Or hungover mid-morning messes
Or bloodshot bullshit redeyes even coffee can’t cure
This is the first time you’ve been awake and alive enough to see
that tour guide shot of Manhattan
where Central Park has Astroturf
where you can pick out the landmark skyscrapers
and all the bridges are string over streams
You see it through the mascara-laden-tear-streaked
plastic lenses of the Cartier knockoffs you bought on the malecon in the Puerto de Veracruz
(Just one of many recent purchases in a last-ditch effort to take as much Mexico back as possible)
And don’t even think to take a picture because you’ve been out of the country for eighteen months
and Instagram hasn’t made it to Mexico yet
The infinite Internet glory of capturing the sublime X Pro II shot means nothing to you
Neither, for that matter, does Nicki Minaj or the HPV virus
Or the fact that your youngest brother has a learner’s permit
That your best friend from college is engaged
That everyone has siliacs disease and is claiming to be on the spectrum

You see the brown water caressing the circumference of the island and you’re in Huatulco, Oaxaca
Where on a Frenchman-led ATV tour to the otherwise isolated bays you had to pay off
a group of belligerent government workers with Doritos & Takis & three liter Pepsis
to let you all take the path they were clearing
Fuck your dollars we want your junk food
Bienvenido a un universo alterno donde se paga en hydrogenated oils and dream in carbonation
To get to the mouth of the sky
You imagine that the free Pepsi and 10 dollar Boar’s Head sandwich in front of you
are the Victoria micheladas and fresh oysters from that afternoon
Shellfish plucked from the Pacific like pebbles
Cracked open on the rocks – half a dozen for sixty pesos, or half this freeze-packed sandwich
Valentina and lime halves were free

Back in Westchester, con mama y papa
Mierda
You exclusively use the Mexican cab company
And every driver in Yonkers knows your life story
You become that asshole that orders guacamole
And says “This would be even better with papalo”
Your iPod explodes with cumbia and you ruin many a reveler’s night when your ass
(Caked off Cabo Wabo and Corona)
Corrupts the jukebox with corridos
You say “perdon” when you walk into people
First out of habit, then out of spite

What can you do but work?
You’ve never actually seen a dog walk with his tail between his legs
But you imagine that’s what you look like
Two years after de-aproning mid-shift
And saying, Adios New York
You’re nothing but a little tanner
A lot poorer
Still stupid
With a buck sixty in your pocket and a couple of pesos you forgot to change in the airport,
It’s your only option
Six days a week
Triple doubles
Double triples
Nights, weekends, mornings
If there was an overnight shift you’d take that too
You get an iPhone
Forage the sale rack at H&M for the newest American fashions
Learn about Instagram and Hashtags
There’s unparalleled joy in putting grainy filters on rows of salt and pepper shakers
Hashtag Workflow Hashtag The Real New York
You cringe as you hand over five dollars at Jamba Juice
And flash back to Taxco, Guerrero
It’s a magical town, the government says so
Where everything you knew about fruit before revealed itself a poor carbon copy
Where the watermelon snap pop cackled at the shoddy imitations grown by those loser poser farmers in Cali
who think they know how to grow vine ripe pink cells that explode on your tongue
like pop rocking cosquillas in a hot wet blender
Where mango slid down your throat as if it were a sunset-colored dream
Or maybe you swallowed part of the sun in the place where you’ll both be 25 forever

The white shiny city is a dream and a joke
As a semi-foreigner it’s full of promise: plausible potential
As a native it’s a mirage: the unmitigated magic is for everyone but you
Those castles in the sky dissolve in fog
As yellow cabs turn into trails of light-filled
As blacktop cracks and crack tops back on cogs
That hold the city, gripping it so tight

You save up enough money to move into the city again
But don’t grow enough balls to get a new job
To abandon the kitchen where you learned Spanish
The friends that pushed you to move
Would be to lose the last tie to the country
You’re jostled on the six
And visions of bull-riding beer-drinking cowboys ride into your mind
Tejalpa, Morelos, where handlebars are for mustaches and the cans of Modelo cost more than the hookers
(at least that’s what they told you as a warning when you put on shorts in a catholic dust town where
the formerly undocumented come to hide in huge houses
with bright-colored window frames after they make their NY busboy guap)
After hours of jaripeo you danced quebradita in the dusty ring with narcos having fun on the way to Cuernavaca
Rubbing up against them like your pussy could read Braille
Trying to figure out which was the pistol and which was the gun
You still couldn’t get anyone to sell you blow

The quest for Love takes a backseat to the eradication of boredom
Carousing transpires
Ride the D to Tajikistan
Late night rendez-vous’
You have variations on a theme in dingy hotel rooms with a food runner at work
Just to feel like you’re somewhere else
Agony and ecstacy in Staten Island
Some Israeli tattoo artist in Kips Bay
You imagine that your blanket looks like a scene from SVU
In the victim-filled crime that’s your NYC sex life

The chase is eternal
The energy vernal
A kernel of truth
That pops in the air
As the glare of the sun
Turns the fun to eternal depression

You got good and drunk before walking to the mall in Puebla the night he asked you to be his girlfriend
Blame the Pinot Noir for the fact that you said “I do”
But blame no one but yourself for your departure
This isn’t real love, you’d said
You knew about love
Love, for the record, does not involve standing in the Rotonda de Insurgentes while your boyfriend of a year reads an email you sent from Belize to your best friend in New York regarding a third-party sexual deviance
It does not involve having someone’s madre tell you what time to eat every meal
Let alone what time your iguana should eat his meals

You give up cigarettes, start running, reading, going to school
You spend hours on Facebook looking at a tan girl with long brown hair who lived in Mexico for two years
Candy, seafood, salt, flowers, heat, Armani, breath.
You wonder what it’s like to travel.
You wonder what it’s like to smell perfection.

Nothing Sweet About This Home

An emptiness pervades her cup of tea.
Pervades, perhaps, is not quite what I mean,
Nor cup of tea, but rather I should state
That all she has remains devoid of all.
She has but nothing nothing’s what she has
Which pleases her but saddens her as well.

Upon the street she walks, not bad nor well.
She sips a steaming paper cup of tea
Which lists among the few things that she has.
A life which has been nothing short of mean
Has ravaged her possessions (some – not all),
Existence scattered far across the state

The country continent town city state.
Her claim to destination, just as well
That numbers, cards, certificates are all
We have to show: how do you take your tea?
Oh, coffee is it? You know what I mean
Two sugars and whole milk are all one has.

She’s taking stock of everything she has.
While knowing it’s a volatile state
Of being that she’s in – not nice or mean
Or anything so simple, easy, well –
A complex red concoction mixed with tea,
Green stars, blue stripes, forever wave they all.

So what if I did tell you that was all
retaliation? But that she has
A chance to brew a proper cup of tea
For someone in a melancholy state
Or maybe one who’s just not feeling well.
It’s over, though, is what really mean.

Though trying hard, I realize it is mean
To ask for all – not half, not some, but all –
The world to enter deep within. As well
For universes, skies, and stars. It has 
All countries, towns, lakes, continents, a state
Of non-possession leads to having tea.

So open wide, look up to light, all well
To mirth, to hate, to people good and mean

To birch bark, wine, to water, whisky, tea
Today we lose we win we do it all

A chance to go within and thus to have
A chance to leap into a higher state.

Act One of Hundreds

Ardsley or Acres? You ask.
Fuck my life.
The three different types of hotel blankets:
the sheet
the fuzzy one
the industrial crappy comforter,
(same the world over)

the tightness sent shivers up my entire
rhythmic but unbridled
the drug numbness starting to wear off
anything to feel something
rush grind contract sweat arch
lather rinse repeat.

Carry a travel toothbrush in my makeup bag
even though we never really go anywhere.
The fear that one day a knowing customer
will complain to the manager
that her server had a dent in her hand
from grabbing the dick while deepthroating it,
that she was being served a $34 fish by a runner
wearing the same underwear from the day before,
only inside out.

Que me llamen vagabunda borracha y loca no me importa.
I don’t care if they call me a vagabond, a drunk, crazy.
I’m in love, they sing, do you want to dance,
you don’t know how to dance, I’m sorry, you should be,
come with me, we can’t, two white assholes dancing bachata
they’ll get pissed and they were.

When I wake up the next morning
And every next morning
I’ll be livid.
And broke.
And hungover.
Sweaty, dirty,
my fingernails will have that look of the nightlife
and the badlife
underneath,
the telltale signs of the scraping off the toilet seat,
picking my nose to unclog it,
pen marks on my hands from taking orders all day and night Friday
and I’m not going to have enough time to take a proper shower
since we both have to be there at 9:30 am to work,
of course,
a wedding.

But I don’t want to dream alone. So I don’t.

Back in Grad School, or Writer’s Block
(Did you know that MFA Stands for Mother Fucking Alcoholic?)

I wake up in the morning, rub filth in my hair
Lest I step on the street and you think that I care.
For I don’t! I’m a poet, a playwright, a scribe
Hear my thoughts, great ideas, and the odd diatribe.
With the Muji-ink stains on my manicured hands
And my headphones that blare the most douchified bands,
Yes, by god, I’m a writer, a scribe and a poet!
I’ve crafted this piece since I want you to know it
And I’ll give you a shit just as far as I throw it.

(Which of course is a meaningless unit of measure
Since for me sport for sport is the converse of pleasure.)

I wash sleep from the edges of liquor-soaked eyes,
Eyes that dream
Eyes that breathe
Eyes that epitomize
The perennial struggle, the artist alone
In her East Village studio
Twin bed, iPhone.
Shadeless lamps, brick exposed,
Polaroids (kodachrome)
And that sign – just keep calm
Just keep carrying on.

As the sun in the window caresses my cheek
I recall birthdays past, wasted youth, my passed peak.
Like the luck-bringing candle was just a mistake
An error in judgement, a miscount, a flaw,
A philandering blessing
A punch to the jaw.

But let’s bounce to the present
Come back to the now:
As I stare at my face in the mirror of glass
At my eyes, rimmed with kohl
At my boobs, waist, and ass
I regret that I’ve chosen such smart life pursuits
Feel the burden of art kicking me in the glutes.

For my breakfast, a drink
Basil Hayden will do
With a cube and a half
I’ll fill up a carafe
Rest it on a chipped saucer garnished with vindaloo

For my sustenance, sugar cubes dripping with salt
Or a milkshake
(A thick shake)
With plenty of malt

Post-consumption I’m trashed so I sit down to write
Oh but wait! First a joint! Let me just find a light!

Now let’s drop in some French
Pourquoi pas? Je me dis.
Si tu veux, je t’explique les raisons de mon etre
Je suis nee, moi, vivant, je me tire par le fenetre
And though defenestration
Is not penetration
When it’s stated in Gallic it can’t help but sound
Like epiphany laced with awareness profound.

Now on Dasher and Dancer
On Prancer and Vixen!
On Comet! On Speed Stick!
Call a transvestite vixen!
Call a hooker, a baker, a candlelight fakir!
Parents and landlords and teachers and friends
Tell them all of the brilliance that drips from your pens.

I wake up hours later, my face stained with ink.
Yet another day wasted, I’m troubled to think.
So I race to the fridge and whip up a quick drink.

Sunday Diners

Post-church or temple they come in droves to dine
Driving skills and personalities left behind
Along with style and class and complex palates
But never do they forget the sticky offspring or the great-great-grandfather
Who will inevitably pay the check
Leaving a tip that I’m sure impressed the waiter on Madison Avenue in 1953

Talmudic debates over food and wine:
“What is a brussel sprout?”
“Why are there no scallops on the menu?”
“What color is the Bor-dee-ax?”
“What does salmon taste like?”
“How many days has the meat been in the fridge?”
“I’ll have the four dollar Pinot Blanc.”
(And then get offended when you tell them they’re looking at the table of contents.)

Meanwhile, back at the barista station, the kids are not fine
Advil and Pellegrino and double espressos galore
For the thirty person staff who simply can’t sober up
Day of rest my ass: The restaurant business is why I’m an atheist
Cause on the seventh day, I’m still here working

“Can I have a spoon?”
But you’re eating asparagus.
“Absolutely. I’ll bring you a salad fork for your coffee too.”
“How would you like your steak cooked?”
“Well, on the menu it says it’s grilled.”
I’m the dumb one, don’t worry.

Side of ice for your cabernet?
Ketchup for your $29 spaghetti?
No, we don’t have Bud Light.
No, we do not open up outdoor seating when it’s snowing.
No sir, unfortunately, we just recently stopped selling loosies at the bar.
I know you’re anxious that your panacotta comes with coarse sea salt.
Yes, I can put your freshly-pumped breast milk in the walk-in.
No, we do not have meatloaf
No, we do not have Dr. Pepper
No, we do not have a small table where you can play Majhong, but I’ll suggest it to the manager.

They say it builds character, serving these characters
But it’s hard to build anything when ten percent is the word of the day
That’s your church tithe, dumbass; I’m supposed to get at least 20
And for the love of spicy sopressata, stop complimenting me!
I can’t pay my rent with a verbal tip

We may not get health insurance but that’s overridden by the zen flow benefits
The night will always end
The thirty burners on the line will be turned down to flickering blue pilot lights
The clock will strike nine o clock
The riff raff will recede to their cages
Monday will always come

happens in fives
(meanwhile, back in the city)

street sellers be like
UM-brella UM-brella
as soon as the first drop hits
cause when it rains it pours
people hiding in door frames
biding their time just to stay dry
because five bucks a pop
for something that lasts five blocks
doesn’t seem like a good deal
when you’re reeling from those
douchebag waves
from the m15 kissing the curb
be all
fuck you and your fabco flats
(another five dollars down the drain
check that decimated pleather
and the broken silver buckle)

a 14 year old me hopping from math class to manhattan
fork over a five and she’s downtown-bound
but that price was in the old days
the ponyboy stay gold days

now it’s five ones for one round trip subway ticket
round the isle of style
thirteen miles tip to tip
and another two wide
242 to rector on the one
people’s faces go from dark to
light to dark again
like race be doing the wave

five bucks you say?
light a candle buy a hot dog
chicken rice special
fuck your nook
get four books on 13th
add tax (and you still got 35 cents
for a cosmic brownie at the bodega)
five bottles of 99 cent nail polish
daydrinking first ave
gimlet for a sawbuck
i’ll tip when I get my taxes
seventeen minutes on a jukebox
mini-bagel with lox
cause the full size busts my bill up

elmhurst dumplings
and enough for a juice
nickel bag
tops rolling tobacco
yoga to the people
fifteen pack of oriental top ramen
a lame donation to the met

a kinko’s-bound book
from a central park poet
inflation’s in action
that used to be a dollar
and he hasn’t changed the poems in 10 years

i wouldn’t pay five dollars
to hear anyone say anything

where after years of life
even after you street-meet the sister
of a Post front paper selling stunt
a BQE casualty
a couldabeenyou night gone wrong
after the burn victims
the acid-raked cheecks
the Tompkins Square syringes
old men whose hinges
came off before i was even a concept
even after all this
(a quarter here, there,
twenty times over)
big deal no fear don’t care
but still the sight of a crazy lazy eye
cockeyed crazy ass eye
that sees everything and nothing
and send blue shivers on the spine
when your 2.50 swipes you in
scares the shit out of you
makes you breathe deeper

bleacher seats on stubhub
(but you’re walking home)
ride and a bud light on the staten island ferry
where homeboys hit on you for free

can’t put a price on glory
can’t put a price on home

what was the best thing
you ever got for five dollars?

#nightout #ladies #trojans #sucia #dontgohome #wepa #les #randomnite #ballin

My homegirls J and S text me – “we’re on the FDR, be downtown in a hot minute, trouble in paradise, let’s get fucked up or something”
(an ambiguous song lyric status update from B’s Fabulous Fiancé leads to ladies on Ludlow and this East Village inhabitant jumps at any chance to chill)
So yeah, it’s a Wednesday
A Girls Lookin’ for Mensday

Moved down here from up there
For the scene and the sheen of the city
And I do a morning prayer that I’ll wake up in 1979
When people talked and walked
Instead of text and taxi

But it’s 2013 and so this is the scene,
Lights low, wood floors, and yet another sign for PBR specials
(Yet another sign that the trashy Midwest is invading my life –
Mr. President, let the Mexicans stay – can we work on controlling
the borders to island of my birth?)
Yet another bar in which every guy is with a girl but wants a guy
[Furthering my theory that despite the alleged open-minded ways of This Day And Age (hash tag pretentious capitalization)
The New New York City is still scared straight,]
It irks me that I can go on Facebook and know that the biryani you ate last night at Banjara on 6th and 1st (you know the one, the oh-so-uber-Instagramable we sing birthday it’s perennially Christmas) is making you run back and forth to the bathroom but y’all still can’t admit that you’re gay
Especially not to the poor pet you duped into being your arm candy

Boy, don’t tell me those are pants,
I know jeggings when I see them
But I know you weren’t looking at my legs
No, you were too busy complimenting my earrings
(They’re SO fab, it’s like a hybrid Aztec/Divine jam,
OMG lets do lemon drop shots!)
And your friend was dripping all over my haircut
(Have you seen Arthur? Like the original? You’re totes a young Liza Minnelli! OMG the have Absolut Cupcake vodka – Hashtag fatass!! Hashtag alcoholic!! Chilled, obvi!)

I guess since you already got a beard all you need’s the irksome hipster mustache
Inspector Clouseau? Try inspector culo.
Ain’t nobody got time for that.

Some bitches have the nerve to run in and be like “YOLO!”
Hell, no.
I’m going to need a Maker’s Mark with a Stella on the side
(And speaking of Stella, when did all the men stop looking like Marlon Brando?)

You wanna talk abbreviations?
Check it:
SWF seeking Capital A lowercase u
I’m a gold digger, all right
But keep your rings, chains, and swinging things
I’m talking Magnums, real men
None of this “let’s talk about my feelings, I’m not that into sex”
Tearing through red and blue and rainbow wrappers in search of the golden ticket
And when I find it I’m Charlene Bucket

Oh, Merle Leland Youngs, from Trenton New Jersey!
Weird 19230s perv sheathing penises in latex!
(Of course the maker of the first Trojan would be from across the Hudson; I’m surprised Junot Diaz hasn’t mentioned it)
Making it possible for females everywhere to know when they’ve found “the one”
Church and Dwight, company of the gods,
Of Eros, of Bacchus, hell even Uranus if I’m drinking enough tequila!

Lucky me, my treat of choice is calorie-free and still cream-filled
Yeah call Willy Wonka cause I got the golden ticket
(But let’s leave Grandpa home this time)

Hide your boys, hide your men
Cause we be raping errybody up in here

I’m drinking Jack Honey,
You’re drinking bourbon, baby,
So before we know it we’re hashtag twisted
And enlisted in the task of Finding a Place to Fuck
Stupid New York, no fields or hidden wilderness
Just alleyways and tenement apartments
Doorway kissing and sharing cigarettes even though I don’t know your name
Can’t remember mine either
Barely even noticed your eye color

Friends have long since torn home,
up the WestSideHighway
fewer potholes for those drivers whose BAC may be slightly more than the legal limit

A nothing notch on my frameless bed
Hashtag single
Hashtag goodnight

As the Papers Hit the Street

I’ve slipped away; a flame that left no stain,
No powder trace, no lacey bra, no dress.
The light will never show my faint goodbye.

Unseen I shimmy out the unlocked pane,
Your uncut cock still pulses with your breath.
I’ve slipped away; a flame that left no stain.

You waken when the sun lights up your cheek
And, feeling different, search for some remain –
The light will never show my faint goodbye.

A pinprick and a matchbook, lingering fumes:
You’re catapulted back into the night.
I’ve slipped away; a flame that left no stain.

You skulk through your apartment like a wolf
In hopes the light will show a stain, a slip.
The light will never show my faint goodbye.

You try to yoke together liquored thoughts,
Wade through the hazy memories in vain.
I’ve slipped away; a flame that left no stain,
The light will never show my faint goodbye.

Home #1: The River Roadhouse

For the money, the lifestyle, the people, the money, the hours.
The freedom, and the freedom bought by the money.
That feeling that you’re better than these people you’re serving, because they’ve already been served the life they’re going to have forever, and you’re just biding your time, living large, until you choose the next step.
But honey, you’ve been chosen, and the next thing you know two years have gone by and all you have to show is a deviated septum, a couple of pregnancy scares, and some sick triceps from clearing tables.
Thus I become a bar fixture.
I often wonder what the fifteen year old version of myself, would think as she drove by with her parents in the car. Ugh, sh’ed think, that’s that world-traveling chain smoker whose dreams will never be realized.
It’s a Jack and Coke in an era of fucktinis, of Luxardo cherries,
of straw wrappers folded into flowers to garnish seltzers.
But when my barrage of tipsy, revved up waiters and busboys bust through the doors,
half of us underage or sin papeles but god knows the bartenders there don’t care. A place where your points didn’t matter, where the back waiter I made cry in the middle of the rush would be my best drinking buddy, where the manager who gave you a shitty station to make you learn a lesson about teamwork and not being late ever again would buy you a round.
A proper dive bar instills among the drinker a sense of timelessness,
of the permanence of impermanence in the timeless pursuit of imbibing.
Dive bar because you dove down and can’t resurface,
hit the bottom and you’re there to stay.
Dive from the clear crystal beauty of the surface to the murky middle all the way to the rocks at the bottom, rock bottom, suck the ice, it’s so cold down there.
Dive into your drink, dive into the resin-coated wooden bar that’s scratched unartistically, a groove from a fake Rolex on a wrist with a collapsed head being yanked across and smacked away at closing,
etchings from a pen that can’t fill a crossword for lack of ink, from a metal tip cross of a rosary, etching, dragging, daggers, scratching.
Dive.

An Education

I’ll probably never wear a power suit
But I can tie a half Windsor quicker than most MBAs

I’ll never date anyone with a quote unquote future
Because I roll out when you wake up

The lights ain’t as bright now
The city’s much smaller, you know?

An education:
Forks go outside in
(The higher the course number
The bigger the tines)
Everyone cheats
Grown-ups do not exist
(Like Santa Claus
Sugar Plum Fairies
And Wall-Dwelling Fraggles)
Everyone is generally terrified of everything
Rich white females are the worst fucking drunks
Don’t underestimate the importance of body language
(Or Disney movies)

I’ll never have an ulcer from pent-up stress
But I’ll get cirrhosis before 40

You judge me.
But I judge you.
So we’re even.

An education:
Even when shelling out $350 for a bottle of Bourgogne
A customer will pay extra for discretion

If a daytime baller drops an eight ball on the floor by mistake
Don’t tell the manager

Do not take that eighth shot of Patron with the line cooks
Something unexpected and unwanted can and will happen

Bleach is overrated
As is separating whites and darks

I’ll never go hungry
Maybe you won’t either

So bon appetite
Enjoy

Saturday

We walk up the red staircase into the dark club
where a discount store light ball that I would’ve
wanted in my room when I was 12 spins around
from the ceiling just a little too fast, red blue
green lights, illuminating flags – Mexican,
Dominican, Puertorican, American. The music’s
already blaring, it’s cumbia, CHchchCHchchCH
the three beat first drop emphasis cranking out,
bursting blood vessels, but the slick wooden
dance floor empty because it’s barely midnight.

The dancers, Mexicans and Dominicans, mostly,
with a couple of Puerto Ricans and an errant
Salvadorena here and there, sit around with their
legs crossed, keeping weight off their heels and
feet before the men come and they need to dance.
Bleached blonde hair, nails like the claws
of a drag queen velociraptor, clothes so tight
and chafa you can see the scars from a cesarean
on the stomach of one, the belly button ring on the other
the penchant for drinking beers late at night on all.

Not that I’m in any postion to judge appearances
at 11:30 on a Friday night after fourteen hours on my feet
serving rainbow carrot salads, handmade lobster ravioli,
and osso bucco to the denizens of Westchester.
My graying tanktop is covered with Sangiovese,
the bloody aftermath of an ill-timed sneeze while
balancing a tray. Black rayon work pants rolled up
like capris to my knees to expose stubbly bruise-covered
legs, the bluish-purple reality of being 25, living with my
parents, and having to have sex in their 2004 Honda Civic.
Round out the look with frizzy hair and smeared makeup
from running back and forth in July heat from the Hudson
riverfront tables to the indoor kitchen to fire courses,
cancel side dishes, and grab extra blue cheese dressing.
I look at my nails and the 300 calories caked underneath.
I could probably use a Mesozoic manicure myself.

The clubs play cumbia, salsa, reggaeton, yes, but the name
of the game is bachata. Fucking bachata. The easiest thing for a
drunk-ass forty year old busboy to dance while
draping himself over the shoulder of a five foot
one chicanera whose mascara is clumping and
whose cellulite is grooving harder than the music
itself. Men roll in, and I’m not going to assume they
all work in restaurants but the fact is they mostly do.
The men who don’t have to wake up early and who
get out late. The men who have nothing to go home
to except a shared apartment, a pile of dirty aprons,
empty beer bottles. With wives in other countries,
a baby who turned into a teenager and a pile of money
that never seems to get bigger. So the bills exchange and
the beers are bought, and the men pay a dollar to dance
and to feel the touch of a woman who in the dark light
with the spinning colors and the throbbing music
could be any woman, could almost be their woman,
at least for a while in a dream of a nightmare of a life.

“Vas a querer?” “Si wey,” I say. “Here,” he says, quickly
back after a handshake that’s barely discreet. White crystals
in tin foil, the smallest to go order ever recieved. “Gracias.”
We cheers with our beers and head to respective restrooms.

The bathroom in La Raza is disgusting. The doors are thin
wood panels and the locks are more of an idea than anything
else. The toilets are always sprinkled with shit, probably
from the first expulsion after that second line as the girls do
key bumps to stay up through the long night. Instead of
flushing the toilet paper it goes into a cardboard box that’s
straddling the stalls, overflowing with the toilet paper of
people who grew up with bad plumbing. Nevertheless, when
in Rome, you’re in Rome, and I do love to travel. I grab a
square of TP and wipe the back of the tank. I carefully unfold
the tinfoil he’s given me, the coke thankfully not clumping
together in the gross club humidity and so I bust out half the
40 bag, two fat rails bada bing bada boom, left right let’s get
cracking and I grab my money from my bra where I left it.
It’s stapled together with a piece of paper that’s got the date,
my name, and the number of points I have (23 out of 25)
in the very advanced way we do the money at work. I don’t
care if they send it by pigeon as long as I get paid daily.
I pick out the staple and peel off a $50, the higher the bill,
the cleaner it is, roll it, tilt my head back, inhale through
the nose, exhale through the mouth, I’m empty now and the
music’s pumping through the thin wood bathroom door, and
I’m sure someones going to bust in any second so let’s dive,
bill to porcelain, lay me down, suck it in, choke that shit back.
My eyes are watering but the girls are coming in to retouch
their makeup so I sniff back quickly and up through the left I go.
“Fuck!” I cough out, i run my finger on the tank to get any residue,
lick it quick, nothing but maximum potential and how to achieve
it is in my mind. i don’t care about feces or bacteria or hairspray I
might have just rubbed into my gums. I care about that grain of
coke that could’ve gotten away and didn’t. The perfect nexxus,
the hybrid BOOM and the night has just begun. It’s just turned Saturday.

Three cups of tequila reverberate with the speakers
and the liquid is making concentric circles in the glass
that will go down my throat, make their way to my hips.
Forget the lime and salt, they’re for MTV only. Salut.

It’s not letting the droves of demanding customers
take away your Friday night, too. And so what if it
starts when it’s technically morning? The imminent
satisfaction of saying: “You left me a thirty percent tip,
sir, and now I’m going to use it to fund debauchery.
Ignoring the cold reality that without their penchant
for fine wines and their desire to have the slow-paced,
Euro-style four course meal I would be unable to pay
my rent. If you go straight home at the end of the
night, the terrorists win, man. And that’s just un-American.

So, like any normal person would, I head to the Mexican
titty bars on New Main street in South Yonkers on the reg.
I love everything about them: La Raza, Universal, Palmas,
Flamingos, Central Bar. When we step in, I’m genderless.
I dance with the men but I drink with them too, they’re
my friends and they know me and sometimes I buy the
beers, but usually they do, and it’s something different,
something that I know no one else is doing and for that
alone I love it. It’s a shakeup from the shakedown of the
job, and a differentiation from the suburban life that raised
my conscious by raising me in its boring little helm, the
oppressive crook of its arm, that by circumstances wholly
within my control I have refused to leave. I’m terrified. Stuck.
And I’m spinning and there’s tequila and so now it doesn’t
matter anymore. The name of the game is not get out, it’s
get up, fucked up, and we’re there, the music is on on on,
and I’m dancing. Bachata, cumbia, salsa. I dance with everyone.
Don’t care who. Cue the global deejays, nothing amiss here,
drink up, shine on, and smile. Glasses down, hands out,

“Salut chicos,” and the glasses are now on the table, we’re
here and it’s the start of a new day, who needs the sun, we’ll
all have fun, and “to what do we cheers?” “A la vida jodida!”
“A la vida jodida!!!!” To the fucked life, the dead life, ain’t no
mountain low enough, and we’re here for the long run, that’s
what we cheers to. I’m wet between my legs not from desire
but from gross sweat, I feel rank and disgusting. These guys
don’t know my favorite color, favorite movie. Don’t know jack
shit about my childhood, my likes and dislikes, hopes, dreams.
They know a sliver of my life, and the problem with this job is
that this sliver, this small splinter of wood that represents just
a thin piece of Who I Am, has become all-encompassing,
time consuming, an obsession, an addiction like anything else.

6 am and we’re literally pushed out the door. My eyes are irritated
from my glitter makeup and I can feel my nose starting to bleed.
I set my alarm for 10. I don’t know how I’ll memorize the specials.

To A Yet-Unmet You

I want to live with all the passion of the world in my hands
head
heart.
Eat like I’ve never seen food,
swim like I’ve known the water since the beginning of time.
I want to kiss you on the churches of Cholula,
watch her mountains stab the evening haze,
feel your arms around my waist your long lost lips consuming everything
as brightly colored houses fade away into my hand.

I want to stroke the rivers made from rain of Spain
and clear Cassis’ sleek crystal waters diamonds deadly on the wave caps
as the rocky harsh calanques cut through the sea into the sand.

I need to sparkle through the Andes arm in arm,
traversing reddish purple mountains,
slipping,
sliding,
gaining energy with every golden inch,
to intertwine with life like neon vines in humid tropics, foreign lands.

I want to dream until bright galaxies implode
Even if I never make it past the buildings scraping skyward north of New York City.

Paranoia, or I’m Really Sick of Getting STD Tests At The Free Clinic

Sex, for the record, is filled with dilation
With excessive sensation
Bodily correlation and some mutilation
It’s gyration, vibration and hot culmination

But what of the riskiness – think impregnation!
Think adulteration
Or discoloration
Of those oh-so-dear parts that just want stimulation
Becoming necrotic or stopping menstruation
Yes I know they’ve invented a new vaccination
And that products exist to prevent procreation

But to sit under fluorescent illumination
As the nurse pokes and pricks without hope of sedation
Needing Cardiopulmonary resuscitation
Waiting for her to come back with negation

Of my sexually transmitted contaminations

It’s a devastation
Fucking lame degradation

So I call for cessation of this search for elation
I’ll stick with flirtation
Avoid all temptation
And should I feel stuck I’ll turn to masturbation

And for now I’ll just wait for indemnification

Before I Begin Again

Be sure to tell One
that love, for the record,
does not involve standing on the Manhattan Bridge
tiptoeing back from Brooklyn to downtown
cocaine and ecstacy mixing blood and agony
hell-bent anxiety everytime the subway shakes the bridge
watching the seven AM sun sweat crimson and golden on the tops of the Chinatown buildings.
That there should be nothing coursing through your bloodstream but pure glitter,
nothing dancing in your heart but diamond swirls.

Let Two know
that love, for the record,
cannot be built on a foundation of blush wine and mixed olives
or damn blue water
on aimless drives through the south of France
or impromptu trips to Barcelona.
Gently tell him that’s the stuff of study abroad movies and chick lit
and that eight years is a big difference when one person is twenty.
Leave him on the beach, with cab fare and hope,
swim away with strangers
on a beach where the sunlight scintillates from wave caps to sunglasses
to wedding rings back up to the sky.

He never really cared, but drop a line to Three, tell him
that love, for the record,
may be just another stupid word in English
but two years is still a long time not to say it.
That sex is amazing but there’s something to be said for a raspberry-scented kiss
glimmering with peaches stolen while he’s sleeping.
That the sweet fruity smell should be from my lips,
lingering from earlier,
not someone else’s.
Make it clear that in love, previous sex partners aren’t grandfathered in
Even if they’re your baby mama.

Not that even matters, but tell Four
that love, for the record,
will ride buses, hail cabs, take trains,
and, most of all, give the finger to its parents if they’re wrong.

Let them all know, even the nameless ones,
that love, for the record,
cannot be bought sold or traded
Cannot be translated.
Doesn’t care about your star sign
is not about the amount of times each person performs oral sex
Or pays the check
Or sends the first text of the morning.

I would do well with reminding myself
that love, for the record,
is crystal and satin and jello and diamonds all together.
It’s waves,
not waves from the water but internal waves,
like when you have an orgasm,
or an epiphany.
It’s never there when you want it
And then, when you’ve given up,
It’ll tap you on the shoulder
and ask you on a proper date.

For the record, it’s best to say yes.

Flapper’s Delight

There are two civil drinks for me: Maker’s rocks or a dirty martini. Vodka, not gin; house, goose, it’s brine-soaked and olive-choked so I don’t care. There’s one civil state for me: Single. Heels? High. Get high? Yes, please. Say please? No thank you. I’ll hold my own damn dive bar door. 

I headed to Grand Central with a plan that would start with bourbon in the Campbell Apartment, the semi-secret ex-office of a 1920s tycoon, and would end in my twin bed. 

When the 9:23 rolled in at 10, though, you had a blazer on, and ideas of your own: “Have you ever been to the Campbell apartment?” I nearly choked on my White Tea Trident. “Nope.” I said. “Where’s that?”

We climbed the carpeted stairs into the sumptuous hollow, where the only things missing were a grand piano and cigarette smoke. After over 12 months of well shots and car sex and this-really-is-the-last-time-now-you’re-nothing-but-a-coworkers, you pulled my red plush chair out from me, helped me with my jacket, and gave it to the hostess to check at the front. 

And so, when the waitress, in a tight black dress with double strand pearls, offered us an austere leather menu, I accepted it. Jazz-age libations with gimmicky names: Prohibition Punch, Kentucky Ginger. Specialty cocktails bother me: Simple syrup, simple girl. My eyes rolled at one with papaya nectar, champagne, and amaretto. 

The champagne would be cava, the amaretto nothing but a droplet, and the papaya nectar would have provenance in an industrial-sized vat. It would come with an orange peel garnish more complex than the quadratic equation, and the barback would loathe me for ordering it as he nicked his finger with the paring knife curling the thick navel rind. The bottom of the glass would be smudged because champagne glasses are impossible to polish.  

“It’s nice to be on this side for once,” you said, and, taking a cue from all the men whose relationships you’d helped bolster, ordered an Oban neat.

“Miss?” said the waitress.

You had your hand on my knee in a protective way and I finally felt like I didn’t know anything about you.

“I guess I’ll have the Flapper’s Delight,” I said. Because when it comes to you, this flapper’s had enough misery for a lifetime. 

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