New York (2013)

  
When you think of New York

You don’t think of buildings

Or population

Of the weather …

The smell of asphalt

Wet and burning

Which makes the people

Feel more like

Rodents running

No,no,

You think of

Opportunity

At least I did
I was telling my sister,Jo 

This at her bar

I great little place

A hole in the wall

I love coming here to relax

play piano at the window

Watching all the people

Moving in and out
She just looked at me

With that expression

And then said

“That’s a whole lot of hyperbole

My bar is getting taxed to death

I can’t pay rent for my apartment

So I’m staying here now …

There’s something to write about.”

Then she stopped and shaking her head poured me a drink.

“Vodka, make sure that’s vodka”

I said pointing (she hates people pointing)

“Don’t give me Rum like last time

I almost died …I could see the world just beginning

As I was falling out …I think that’s actually a quote…maybe?”

I was only giving her a hard time
“It’s vodka” she said dryly

Shooting it down the bar
I always admired her talent
“What’s really bothering you?”

I asked as seriously as I could
She just looked at me

So I went to the piano

And stopped

There

On the seat

Was a box

Macadamias …
Jo shouted from the bar

“Hey, Annabel came by

she had been baking…again.

She said you seemed upset

So she brought

Cookies.”

Annabel

Was great

The baker and holiday

Coordinator

A great friend

To have in This massive city

Fortunately 

it’s where her degree

Brought her

And everybody loves

A getting pulling up their roots

I sat down at the piano

Shaking the rain out of my scarf

Watching the people outside

Shuffling in all their hurry

I began playing my favourite

melody for rain

Chopin’s

Prelude in E minor
Counting the colours of scarfs

And shoots of red hair

Poking out from hats

I wondered if anyone

Ever regretted moving here?

You can’t always go backwards

Even something like this

Can sometimes

Leave you isolated

I needed to start writing

I needed to do something

But instead

I stayed

And I played

Until my sleeves

We’re rolled to elbows

My jacket on the familiar floor

And I was on Prelude D flat

“Rain drop”

As the night shuffled in …

Down the alleys

And the corners

And the rain

Long had given over

To snow

  

Chapter 2

“I don’t know…”
Sara was staring straight ahead with her camera …taking shots of old people in the park

And animals …

Her flaming red hair spraying out

From her hoodie

I looked at her for a second

Shaking my head I asked again

“Are you really ok?”

“No…we were together for 7 years

And then he just left…

I don’t know if I can do this again…”

She was always the strong one

In the group

Her British accent

Tattoos and camera

She seemed untouchable

Until she started dating again

And then reverted back to

This …person…

Who couldn’t make a decision

But in her defence

Her previous relationship

Had been something else

“Jared looked at me like he didn’t know me …and then he just left…”

She took a shot of an old couple asleep on a bench ….
I sighed …

“Well,you can’t stay in bed all the time…you have to get out more …

Turn these pictures in…”

I kicked the curb ….sending pigeons flying around in a panick

You turn in your manuscript??”

She was genuinely concerned

“No…I can’t finish it…”

“Are you still seeing Laura?”

“Yeah,but I don’t know…I think so…she’s a screenwriter …I mean we essentially do the same thing …and I don’t know…it seems to be going well…”

“I think I’m a lesbian…”

I stopped …

“What? I helped you pack when Eric cheated on you…you just got through telling me about Jared having a hard time because…”

She laughed

“I know I know…but I don’t know how to be myself in a relationship…

But with women …I can do that…it’s very freeing…I can breathe …”
“Well,I’m not telling Jared..”

“Neither am I …I’ll just let it run its course..”
“You are insane…a mad woman.”
“Maybe but at least I’m not afraid to turn my manuscripts in or ask a girl to marry me”
I grabbed her camera and shot a bar across the street

“That’s just unnecessary cruelty …I’m not getting married anyway…

You need to talk to Jared

He needs to understand what’s going on he fell in love with

A strong woman who made decisions

And now you’re afraid of upsetting him …you have to talk to him about

What’s going on .”
She stopped, setting the camera down

She started to cry …

In 5 years I had never seen Sara cry

So I just held her

And said nothing
  
chapter 3
Right here

At thanksgiving

It’s freezing

And all I want is my muffin

That’s it

But a hand flashes in front of

My face

And takes it from me

“Hey!”

It’s Rachael

jumping ahead of me

With my muffin

All full of energy

She owns her own

Gym and nutrition place

Or thing

It’s very foreign to me

“If you want it

You have to work for it

Come on!”

She’s laughing and running ahead of me – backwards…

“Dammit…” I breathed

“Shhhhit! Come on it’s negative 20 out here ! if I move I’m going to tear something I much rather prefer

Slowly freezing with my muffin.

It’s more acceptable than breaking

Like porcelain ….”

She pouted,her nose crinkling

With disappointment

“Oh fine Achilles …have your muffin

You are quite the warrior”
“I’m not laughing,I’m not laughing…

I’m ready to get to the bar so we can eat Annabel’s food and wrap things

Can we do that? Let’s do that.

No one dies from death temps

And exposure.”
“Oh christmas it’s overrated

I hate the cold but I still run

I make this body what it is.”
She was messing with me
“Listen you communist,I love Christmas and muffins

And fires

I like the cold

I just happen to be aware

Of when my blood is

Frozen,congealed and killing me. Where’s your american spirit?

This is a time for sleeping

And getting fat

Not running and health.

Indulgence! Dammit.

That’s euphoria!”
“Yeah,sounds like diabetes

and no sex to me..I don’t like it”

She laughed and ran

inside Jo’s bar …

I sighed,

“Jesus I need to find some dudes to start hanging out with…”

 
 
Chapter 4
The mop splashes across the blood. Mister Sing, slowly moves it around in circular motions left to right. “Does this happen often”, I ask. “Oh yes”, he pauses for just a moment…picking something off of the floor. “Ah! the finger!” He presents it to me on a foam tray, with a grin. “Maybe Allen used to be a ten but he’s just a nine and three quarters,today.”
He continues mopping while talking he’s a good one…I’ve always enjoyed just hanging out and listening to him tell his stories about working with people. His family started the business in the 30’s so he never runs out of them.the stories I mean.
“Butchers are always cutting off limbs.But one time,I had a customer just fall out in the floor reaching for eggs. Just filleted her leg open on a basket. Blood was everywhere. Asked her if she was on any medicine…she said. ‘Oh no! no! Just blood thinner!’ I had to wrap it myself until the ambulance got here.” The floor is clean. You wouldn’t know there was a finger or blood or a screaming Allen fifteen minutes ago.Kicking a trash can in the back of the store…holding his hand between his legs. “I tried to get Allen out here” – Mister Sing continues – “but he took one look at all that blood and walked outside until she was gone.”
Mister Sing hands me a brown bag over the counter. ” Here’s your ground chuck,and fingerless at that! He says laughing and shaking his head. I put some bbq in there also…trust me…(he spreads his hands for emphasis) you’re going to want in on that…goes on everything…put it on a salad…and it turns into meat. Ho-Hey!.” He laughs.

  
Chapter 5

Artist

It’s said

Always want one thing

We want to be heard

We want to be seen

We want to be understood
we say we feel things

Differently

We see things differently

Things coming together

Just to come apart

Like entropy

The only difference

Between us

And everyone else

Is that we not only see it

We feel it ….

And we are jaded

Sometimes before it even

Happens
A stair case

A closed door

Snow coming through the window

Paint chipping on the walls

You see it all

But you’re outside

Standing with

Sara telling you to go

Take a chance on

Laura

Even after your fight

Your drop down drag out

Fight
God Laura …

Her blonde hair

Pulled back

Her hoodies

And loose clothes

Her violent schedule

Working with

Local theaters

And dance studios

And writing her

Screenplays

You could see the

Scars along the inside

Of her arms …

The first time we slept

Together

She was nervous

It was like a map for me …

Pieces of doors and windows

That only she could open

If she wanted to

Tell the stories

Behind them

Standing at the balcony with our drinks 

Laura pointed to the 

apartment across the street 

“I’ve always loved her window..she keeps lights in it all year ’round…not just on holidays.it’s nice you know?.”

“Every night is like New Years then?” “Exactly…the possibility of beginning all over again in the morning.”

She smiled-covering her face with her hand.”it’s ridiculous, I know.” But I didn’t think so at all. And I told her just that.

We stood in her theatre work shops 

And she wrote letters on the backs of photographs 

Sliding them across to me 
But the staircase

And that door

My heart didn’t feel right

There was an echo to its beat

As I walked in

The fan (spinning lazily with a slant)

The heater (burning)

I could hear the shower

On the other side of the door

I opened it…
Doors like boxes

And safes

Hide things

But it’s really just a psychological

Thing because we have the ability

To look inside them

there are always secrets

There will always be secrets

Your father wasn’t the guy

You thought he was

Your wife is a lesbian

Your boss is actually into

Hard core porn

And Heroin ….

Secrets are little rooms

That we have a hard time

Opening

But when it opens

It’s open

And all you can do

Is read it

Even though

It sometimes

More often than not

Is like the aftermath of a storm …
the shower (steam and water hissing)

The mirror (fogged over)

The curtain (torn from its hangers)

And Laura …

on the floor (facedown)

Naked

Trapped between the toilet and the sink

She’d suffocated from a seizure ….

No one there to help
It’s been said that artist

Always want one thing …

Sometimes all you have is

The need to be seen

I guess that’s what we have

In common

That need …

Artist just say it louder

We feel it

Maybe or

Maybe we keep it in….

like Laura

Who never told me about

Her epilepsy

It’s just a room

Waiting on the

Courage it takes

You to open it

With files and folders

we foolishly think only

We can read

but it’s there
It’s not a door

It’s our lives

It’s a window

And everyone is looking

And no one at all

  
Chapter 6
Did you know,that in WWII…Hitler wanted his generals to burn down Paris …but they looked at the city…and they just couldn’t….the idea of saving it ‘s historic pieces …was to great.To be able to look at them…years later…and know…’I could have destroyed that…but I chose to save it instead.’
Too bad they couldn’t all feel the same about saving a race of people ….
I’m sorry I’m rambling again 
I was just looking at a photo Sara took…it’s hanging above her couch…Her place is small,but nice.’efficient’ is the term she uses.Doesn’t believe in wasting space. 
She walks out of her room, red hair,pulled back into a messy bun.Hands me a large Yellow envelope….and just stairs at me with her big green eyes. 
“Take it…it’s nothing…I just thought you might want them.”
I tear open the corner 
And there they are
Black and white images 
Of Laura, working on stage…directing actors….Laura …sitting in a window…looking out at the people of New York 
My chest feels heavy….
“When did you take these??”
I ask 
Sara just shrugs and pours some coffee 
“A few months before the accident…how are things with you? We haven’t exactly heard from you and it’s been a while since I see you around.”
She sat down on the floor beside the window ,crossing her legs…lighting a cigarette.
“I’m ok.i took a journalism internship…but i had to go to Louisiana… Just a bunch of old jobs …stories on culture…things like that.”
“Sounds good”
“It was…I really needed to get away,ya know?”
“Yeah….I can’t really take much photographs anymore…I have this thing with my eyes…I just can’t see.”
“What?,why didn’t you say anything? Have you had it checked out?”
“No,no,I don’t have to…it’s genetic …I know how this works.”
She shrugged and got up,crossing the floor.
“Sara,look,I’m sorry…I know I haven’t been around…I left real fast.like,real fast.and I’m sorry. But…I had to….I just want to be a good writer…I want to write something that matters…something good.and I’m really sorry,you should have been able to reach me.”
She turned around and looked at me.
I kind of felt sick then 
Because I realised 
Everyone is older now 
and some of us are dead 
Some of us are going blind 
And for me 
The world just kind of felt numb 
And I just kind felt stuck 
And I felt real selfish
And ashamed 
“You could always tell me anything,Josh.you didn’t have to leave like that….and all of us had plans…I don’t know what I’m going to do…I have seen wonderful things …I regret nothing…I don’t have to see anything else.especially if i have you two.” 
Sara looked out the window 
And I realised just then 
How there’s so many people in New York 
But yet 
We still have only a few 
And we still feel alone sometimes 
And if we are lucky to have these few …who stay close …we should definitely keep them.

And I knew we would make it. I knew we would be ok. What else is there?

End

New York #11

  (Image origin unknown)

Annabel  has this funny way of getting exasperated with her children. She doesn’t out right yell at them.and She doesn’t exactly ignore them either.she waves her hands talking to dead air.Like putting a post it on the bathroom mirror. The message is there. But …it didn’t require direct attention. 

It’s harder for me to see Annabel with children. Grayson, stands in the middle of the room crying, “I can’t find my other shoe…mom,mom,mom,I can’t find my other shoe.”
“If you would put them where you’re supposed to this wouldn’t happen.now go look one more time.”
Annabel was going through the kitchen cabinet,bowls,that’s what she was looking for. 
I pointed to Grayson.he was just standing there,red eyes,snot running,his bed hair standing up. One shoe on his left foot and one shoe in his hand.He looked at me. I raised an eyebrow and pointed to his hand…
His eyes lit up. “Oh my gosh! Not again!” And he ran off to put the shoe on.
Annabel turned around. “And don’t you pet him either. He has to learn to fix things on his own.its been very hard with his dad gone.”
“Pet him? Why would I do that?. He’s not my kid. I’m just waiting for coffee. Where’s the coffee. By the way,you could go into fashion,you remember when we were in school.you baked and made clothes from all that fabric from Mrs Schrivells shop. You could design for the mothers of New York. I don’t know.”
She looked at me. Picking up the baby. “Oh really? Please,I smell like baby formula and I’m pretty sure this spot on my arm isn’t baby food.I look about as good as a homeless person taking finals.”
I laughed . “I’m just saying it’s something to think about.”
She rolled her eyes. 
“Get out of here. You have to go to that news thing and tell them about Alabama,remember?.”
“Yeah ok. I just wanted to see how you were doing that’s all.”
She looked at me.
“We thought you were dead,Josh. You just disappeared. …don’t do that. You can’t do that. It’s not ok.”
“Hey , I’m here now,” I say,spreading my arms. 
“And I’ll be here a while.” 

New York #10

  (Photo origin unknown)

Did you know,that in WWII…Hitler wanted his generals to burn down Paris …but they looked at the city…and  they just couldn’t….the idea of saving it ‘s historic pieces …was to great.To be able to look at them…years later…and know…’I could have destroyed that…but I chose to save it instead.’

Too bad they couldn’t all feel the same about saving a race of people ….

I’m sorry I’m rambling again 

I was just looking at a photo Sara took…it’s hanging above her couch…Her place is small,but nice.’efficient’ is the term she uses.Doesn’t believe in wasting space. 

She walks out of her room, red hair,pulled back into a messy bun.Hands me a large Yellow envelope….and just stairs at me with her big green eyes. 

“Take it…it’s nothing…I just thought you might want them.”

I tear open the corner 

And there they are

Black and white images 

Of Laura, working on stage…directing actors….Laura …sitting in a window…looking out at the people of New York 

My chest feels heavy….

“When did you take these??”

I ask 

Sara just shrugs and pours some coffee 

“A few months before the accident…how are things with you? We haven’t exactly heard from you and it’s been a while since I see you around.”

She sat down on the floor beside the window ,crossing her legs…lighting a cigarette.

“I’m ok.i took a journalism internship…but i had to go to Louisiana… Just a bunch of old jobs …stories on culture…things like that.”

“Sounds good”

“It was…I really needed to get away,ya know?”

“Yeah….I can’t really take much photographs anymore…I have this thing with my eyes…I just can’t see.”

“What?,why didn’t you say anything? Have you had it checked out?”

“No,no,I don’t have to…it’s genetic …I know how this works.”

She shrugged and got up,crossing the floor.

“Sara,look,I’m sorry…I know I haven’t been around…I left real fast.like,real fast.and I’m sorry. But…I had to….I just want to be a good writer…I want to write something that matters…something good.and I’m really sorry,you should have been able to reach me.”

She turned around and looked at me.

I kind of felt sick then 

Because I realised 

Everyone is older now 

and some of us are dead 

Some of us are going blind 

And for me 

The world just kind of felt numb 

And I just kind felt stuck 

And I felt real selfish

And ashamed 

“You could always tell me anything,josh.you didn’t have to leave like that….and all of us had plans…I don’t know what I’m going to do…I have seen wonderful things …I regret nothing…I don’t have to see anything else.especially if i have you two.” 

Sara looked out the window 

And I realised just then 

How there’s so many people in New York 

But yet 

We still have only a few 

And we still feel alone sometimes 

And if  we are lucky to have these few …who stay close …we should definitely keep them. 

New York #9

   

  

(Photo Origin 

“They changed the Cadbury eggs”

“What?!,why would they do that?. Did they learn nothing from the Wonder ball?. How can they make it better? Pack it with glitter?, Pretzels? Oh my gosh this really gets under my skin.”

I started cleaning a glass,pretending to be upset…which is something impossible to do at Jo’s Bar…my sister has a way of bringing out the the best humour in people.

“You seriously like them? I hate them…they’re nasty.” She practically scowled at me…

“Hey,turn that frown upside down,you are too blessed to be stressed.”

She was glaring at me now…

“Ok ok…or not …”

I was surrendering at this point. Which meant I got to pour shots …

“I lost my glasses…”

“What?”

“I can’t find them…I have no idea where I put them.They just– vanished”

“don’t use my good glasses for shots”

“I know that…I’m talking about my reading glasses…for my eyes…I’ve been blind all day.Maybe I won’t die from alcohol poisoning” 

“For the last time,you don’t get alcohol poisoning from one drink dumbass.”

I did three shots 

“Oh god,there it is.I see white…if this is white…you should really clean those bathrooms again.”

Jo didn’t even look up at me 

“Mhhm.  Crap…I’m a penny short…damn”

“What’s a penny got to do with it?”

“Well,I don’t want to have to count all these pennies again…”

I dug in my pocket and tossed her a penny…

“I should buy some jeans…or any clothes really.these are getting old”

Jo stopped wiping the counter 

And just looked at me…

“You need to go see Sarah 

She has some photographs for you”

I looked around the room

Some old men playing chess 

The clock on the wall above the piano 

 12 pm 

Outside people were just being people 

Running –running–headfirst into whatever happened to hit them first

“Fine,I didn’t really want to do that you know…”

Jo’s voice echoed from  under the bar

“You never want to do anything.You could have told me you were back, you know.”

“I know….It would be much easier …if I weren’t so ..socially bi-polar.”

“That’s normal….don’t worry about it….I have to deal with Todd,you get to reunite with Annabel and Sarah…they should know you are home…”

“Whoa…Todd? You can’t possibly expect me to let that go….”

She pointed her fist at me,dish towel in hand…

“Shut it smart ass.”

“Hey, I’m glad for you…I was beginning to think you were gay.Which is totally fine by the way…I just really thought that was why you called me here.”

“What?!”

“Well,you’re always single…you have a bar…you dress very — masculine …I’ve been gone a year and a half.Things happen…(she slugged me in the arm) Ow! …nnnnd you punch like Mike Tyson. Jesus,Jo.”

I raised my hands in mock defeat 

“I’m going,see,this is me,leaving the building….I’m going to be social.”

Jo hopped up on the counter crossing her legs 

“Hey,tell me what the big gift is…you have to come back here and tell me the gift.Remember.”

“Got it.will do.If I don’t forget.”

I stepped outside and started towards the Sarah’s apartment …God what could she have for me?  I haven’t seen her in a year …photographs ….photographs …photographs of Laura. There it was. 

New York #8

 

The Bar …

My sister has owned it for about 10 years …

I always come here for the holidays 

But right now it’s summer

And there are a good thirty people inside…I haven’t seen Jo since after Laura died…

She’s probably going to be mad at me…

I walk inside 

And sit at the piano,underneath the Paris lights picture 

Jo is working the bar 

I sit and watch 

She seems happy 

Or maybe just busy 

Content 

Or just occupied ….

(How do you feel?

I look at the rows of books on the shelf,the brown carpet,the brown chairs,I wonder if he’s read every single book,is that something a psychiatrist has to do?. Or is it just a thing that they have in their rooms so we look at them…

“So tell me about Laura, what was she like?”

” I really,really don’t want to talk about Laura…can we talk about something else?” )

I leave Jo and the bar and decide to go back to my place 

It’s a lot easier

A lot easier than facing Jo right now 

And easy 

Is,well, preferable 

To so many things 

And that’s something that I need 

New York #7

  Photo origin (unknown) 

The mop splashes across the blood. Mr Sing, slowly moves it around in circular motions left to right. Does this happen often, I ask. Oh yes, he pauses for just a moment…picking something off of the floor. Ah! the finger!. He presents it to me on a foam tray, with a grin. Maybe Allen used to be a ten but he’s just a nine and three quarters,today. 

He continues mopping while talking he’s a good one…I’ve always enjoyed just hanging out and listening to him tell his stories about working with people. His family started the business in the 30’s so he never runs out of them.

Butchers are always cutting off limbs.But one time,I had a customer just fall out in the floor reaching for eggs. Just filleted her leg open on a basket. Blood was everywhere. Asked her if she was on any medicine…she said. ‘Oh no! no! Just blood thinner!’ I had to wrap it myself until the ambulance got here. The floor is clean. You wouldn’t know there was a finger or blood or a screaming Allen fifteen minutes ago.Kicking a trash can in the back of the store…holding his hand between his legs. I tried to get Allen out here – Mister Sing continues – but he took one look at all that blood and walked outside until she was gone.

Mister Sing hands me a brown bag over the counter. Here’s your ground chuck,and fingerless at that! He says laughing and shaking his head. I put some bbq in there also…trust me…(he spreads his hands for emphasis) you’re going to want in on that…goes on everything…put it on a salad…and it turns into meat. Ho-Hey! Have you told your sister you’re back yet?

I turn back to him and smile. Not just yet, Mister Miyagi. But don’t worry.I’ve got this. 

Don’t hide away in that apartment,Josh!

I back against the door and raise the bag.  I’m good! thanks for tha meats! 

New York #6

origin

“I will not walk backward in life.”
J.R.R. Tolkien, The Children of Húrin

IMG_5370-1.JPG

“brought my drafts today”
My sister stopped wiping down the counter
And looked at me
“What is it?”

“Just a story about some teenagers who run away from home,
Find a body in the woods;
“The sleeping american”
And they wake him up by playing
Led Zeppelin”

She shook her head
“I don’t know if this is good or not”

I sighed
And kicked my vodka back, straight

“What am I supposed to write about?
9/11?? I could do that you know”
“I know”
It was annabel carrying boxes from up stairs
“You could write about the animals that go out in space
Or about a house haunted by a cat
I had a ghost cat once…”
“I don’t know anna That’s a big deal…
No one may like it”

“Well it’s gotta be better than writing about all your exes like Taylor swift”
I looked behind me
And saw Sara walk in carrying her boxes of alcohol
“Maybe”
I started helping my sister clean off tables
And looked outside at the street
I wondered how much
Of our lives would be the same this time next year
New Years
And I wondered if any of us would be
Published yet
Sara was putting film in her camera,
“We have to be a success guys we have to hit it in this decade…”
I looked at Sara and scratched my face
When it hit me …
“What else is there?”
Everyone stopped and looked at me
“There’s nothing else for us
We’ll make it …this is who we are
What else is there?”
And then everyone started laughing
With relief

-end