This poem exists in the collection, "the Dirty East," considered for the 2015 Mary Ballard Poetry Prize

Inside Out

 

MAN’S SEARCH FOR MEANING is missing

“I don’t understand this” hits me with hot Cafe Bustelo breath,

a tepid tuna-fish chaser follows as he hastily holds Anne Frank in my face

“Ironic you idiot”

  (Races through my mind 3x)

A singular “THANKS” burns as It escapes my pursed lips

I’m back inside by the time I reach the school’s exit

      (Bloated like LaGuardia’s painted portrait)

 

The sun’s now warming my paunch, passing through the cotton-poly blend like oily 

paper

I implore my liver to apply the piercing rays like a heating pad on a pulled muscle

The lack of response causes me to curse

Svedka, Saki, Sapporo Light, Steven Spielberg

                                 (and Captain HOOK)

bang-a-rang!  Purple painted pants on that hip-hop hipster

Takes me back to The Charleston, Plymouth gin, personal pan pizzas,

the Knicks

Vs.

the Celtics

And the falafel farts wafting in from around the corner

My kidneys burn as I hurry past Court Square wine

                                                                                      (& LIQUOR)

 

Wilde and Bertrand Russell follow behind me like shadows

While in front, just beyond the beggar with his ‘bitty bottles

Chester Himes and d’Holbach wait on the corner of Eleventh

The fruity little Frenchman refusing to look at his black face

                                                                                   (Determined)

I give the beggar a dollar 

My mind goes to the price of Purell 

                                 (travel-size)

89¢, and the awareness of my stomach surfaces 

BURP

FART

                                                                                                    (relief)

 

Pandora picks Louie CK as the smell of poor man’s pine-sol fills my nose and throat

The septic smell takes me to a bodega in Sunset Park as fearful sounds fly from

a Puerto Rican with a bull-whip WILD from his want of rum, and men, and women

CRACK!

CRACK!

CRACK!

I cross the street in my memory

    (worried)

Now I enter my apartment

I’ll pour a warm Grolsch

I’ll read something by Doris Kearns Goodwin

     Sleep with my hat on

                                                                         (insides will settle away)

 

 

2012