I once saw a man with holes in his shoes. Not once did I have to place my feet in the lining of those shoes to try and understand what it was this man walked through.
On a slow gliding torpedo barrelling down the Hudson, torward big city rumble – traveling alone. Riding a bit shaky, bumping off steel frames, strangers wear their grins.
Snow blanketing fields outside my window – lay peacefully untouched in the rarely seen plains of New York’s rural mass – impoverished back allies of forgotten sheds. A town’s mutated gene with a broken window, three rundown cars, some cluttered lawn mowers all meant for fixing – covered in angelic, glittering white.
The sun, a blazing ball of gold on Friday morning –bounces through skinny, sleeping trees and if I close my eyes, creates anxiety -A flashing red and white dance party –eyes widen relief – the tracks kicking up white dust below.
Friday. Our lucky American’s last laboring frenzy. Counting down the hours before a happy 5-9. “another night running late” – slamming cinnamon poison under mint rubber – feeling no shame, feet swell, legs warm – carrying up into your face flushing hot with reward.
On a train, with myself – some funky beats to block out talk – how nice not to talk – and watch – watch the sun rave with birch and pine until a massive willow who stands like wisdom – turns our fire briefly to night in a glimpse – and is gone.
The coldest month our north has seen in quite some time – not made for people’s hands to peddle or ponder – a femme fatal murderous winter –choking lungs into frozen ice boxes that hold no breath – she’s tallied tall numbers – our taker – and yet this train is full of souls in route to another frostbitten building holding heat – proving yet again, life demands no stopping.
But how the trees dance – how the snow swings in bouts of wind that blow like cotton softly – how the sun creates hope brighter than the white that blinds me – how the untouched plains remind me – beyond my stinging phalanges and nose – what our world is without my being.
A Greek Goddess is now an ancient artifact.
You can’t truly walk a life in vain worried about the possibility of veins, can you?
I find it novel, a woman with indentation, crease and curve looking like a life having lived.
A matriarch of ten grows a garden – her hands stiff, scarred and arthritic – makes some heaven out of soup bowls -and keeps a happy family fat.
Real women who fight their days without fear
wave their flabby arms like wings
never missing the chance to crease a laugh line.
That’s an admiration, not an artifact.
Mandarin Oranges break into beads that thread through the carpet I walk on. An old grape tomato, the cat’s new toy splatters – on the hall wall I wander down for more milk – that will spit itself onto the suede couch I plop my peanut butter jelly ass on. Water in the sink, on the floor, hugs the rug and runs into the side of the tub, the toilet I’m in need of. A toy car beneath the sheets of my bed – I yearn for an active dream – drives me to a days blacked out end. Awakened by whine for more games, more play – is the radio station that cries for my dancing. A coffee cup already cold, spoiled creamer – gets the dishes done, the garbage outdoors, and the breakfast made from a toaster. No arpon with flowers or heels that click, just my hair in a knot, some old stained socks decorated in crumbs and butter. Can’t wait to have kids, be a stay at home mom, and go mad walking through a circular door of unclean paths in need of maiding.
We didn’t have much money or expertise, so we picked up some loaners from my parent’s place. They were Schwinn mountain bikes that had never ridden out of suburbia. I was not a bike enthusiast. All I knew was to click my gear on an incline. The less my chain popped, the better I got at it. I wasn’t a health fanatic, biking wasn’t for sport. But, I did lose twenty pounds that summer peddling.
We met at 11:30PM on Sundays downtown outside a local bike shop. Hundreds of people gathered waiting for midnight to hit, and then we were off like the drunk tor de France.
One of my largest rides was with a group of three hundred. We rode to City Hall’s circular path that sat in the off hours of Buffalo’s busy business bureau. One guy attached speakers to his bike, played indie jams we could all sing along to, and around and around we went…
Another night, we played follow the bad-idea-leader to Woodlawn Beach, (i rode over 40 miles that night). Our plan was to throw a big party to celebrate our arrival. We almost made it but, when the cops saw a circus of biking bozos barreling down an empty highway, they swerved us back to our Silo City.
Back in 2010, Buffalo was still abandoned with rusted fishing tackle and corroding brick. The Great Depression knocked Buffalo out cold, and for a while we just laid there sleeping. The streets were rich and hardly lit with historic artifacts and sleeping architecture.
We often stopped at the deserted train station, a crumbling landmark and drank Jameson out of flasks. Sitting on the steps, observing other’s dress. Some in costume. Some plain like me. A man nearly naked accompanied by his sneaks streaked gleefully through the playful crowd.
Colorful costumes blended into something sweet under a summer night’s sky in Buffalo June. Roman candles popped and sprang into the dark, infinite gloom above us. Not a suspicion of chemtrails to it, this crowd feared no consequence. These were times not yet analyzed by the consequences to our actions, just a bunch of rebellious souls freely pushing life into another gear.
As the hours turned into morning, the crowd would slowly start to disperse. If you made it to 5am, you rode to the docks- a thin strip of cement tucked into the lake’s armpit near the highway. We’d build bonfires on the disintegrating rock and cook hot dogs with canned beans to fuel up for our last labor toward home.
I was brand new and twenty, like a doll in a daze. Exploring the borders of our city, I was helped not to fear. Things did not make sense here; but, the high on a five speed cruising through the most desolate parts of town was worth knocking the kick-stand every Sunday.
They call him Sly, and he’s slick like gasoline. Buzzin through a late night crowd, he’s on a pick-up for a buck before sleep. A few kids call on him but, not anything kind. “He called me a Punk!”, was the last grunt I heard before he threatened to lose his shit on those snot-nosed brats. College kids post kegger, insurance on Daddy’s buck saying things like “Get a job”, as if they knew what brought him here.
He’s the best peddler on the block. the least threatening of the bunch, in our Village of the Queen City where thick rimmed glasses pay for their beers on a 2-4-1 Tuesday night budget. He’s the last voice you hear before turning in for bed. A raspy reminder that not a thing’s been shifted under Apollo. A coughing call goes out to the last flannel shirt stumbling with final rounds. “Can I get two dollars for the bus?” is as soothing as a goodnight kiss to a mother’s youngest, spoiled pisset for all hazy-eyed locals in route.
His two and a half mile home stretches with bakeries, bars, and bodegas. Crowds jingle drinking tips in their pocket. They slip past Sly with a smirk- a feel-good exchange for their giving. They leave with a little self-humbling for better sleep. They don’t even see the other flunked fool with a burden to lose get suckered into giving another five behind them.
He likes Pink lemonade but only if you let him have it for free. Otherwise, he wants nothing but another buck for the bus to get to another street. And if you pass him you’ll see- he’s sometimes refreshed, sometimes sober, and sometimes -nope. none at all. But, he still likes Pink lemonade and if you got one, a Marlboro as well.
One time he told me about his grandmother from years back when. She was a bright, strong woman who took up nursing, married three men and outlived them all. She had a nice house in a better part of the city, when the trees were real Elm. She had plenty of children to keep the gene pool steadily flowing, and he remembered her like cake.
Another time, he told me he was a Vampire and swiftly darted off into the streets with nothing to fear but a phobia of garlic.