11 February 2009

puma perl

I’d Be Dead

I’d be dead if I wasn’t still alive
Fire hydrants were ghetto ER’s
Patient’s pockets empty as wakeups
Dope fiends with hearts saved lives

I saw EMT’s bringing a guy out
“You’re next” they said laughing
“Where’d he cop?” I laughed back

Ran into Papo on the curb, sweating
Shit I said and split my shot
He carried me out of the basement
I still had twenty dollars in my bra

When he got locked up he wrote stories
We were all animals in a forest
My daughter was a chattering bird
We collected cigarette money for him
Thirty-nine cents in four days

I was dead and I dreamed of nothing
Most days my wishes came true
Lower east side streets hold my secrets
I’d be dead if I wasn’t still alive


Age may or
may not
bring wisdom
It will
make you
old and you
will do strange things

You may
sit on beach chairs
on hot pavement
blocking the doors
of Brooklyn buildings
while young mothers
struggle with
strollers and groceries
Stepping over your
drooping black socks
and sandals

There will be
to go
on steaming
summer nights
Winter months
will loom ahead
stuffed with
television and

If age
brought wisdom
if love
was genetic
if children
were gifts
there would
be no beach chairs
on Brooklyn sidewalks
no six o’clock
phone calls
on Sundays
no droopy socks

I Am a Map

I’m corny as all hell
The Obama poster
in the window
of the corner bodega
almost makes me cry

I love the guy riding his Harley
dressed in a tuxedo
I love the kids on skateboards
below the Brooklyn Bridge
I love the kid in the library
who told his friend
he liked to read
cause he’s normal like that

I love the old lady
Who said “I was running,
Feel my heart
and the old man
who answered,
“I’d like to…”

I used to love
each kaleidoscopic moment
Obama spinning
on a skateboard
kids and old people
flying across a bridge

Today it tires me
I long for midnight gold
in an Arizona desert
the ginger dusk
of a Texas sky

I am a map
In bold letters
across my torso
it is written
You Are Here
Why here?
(I wonder)
continuing along
the same street….

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