I am sitting in the last place I’d like
to be on Sunday morning (church; New Jersey)
doing the last thing I’d like to be doing (meeting your parents).
This past week my boss was assaulted
in Savannah – the epitome of Southern gentility — KO’d
at random while walking with his partner through
The Historic District. Police continue to murder
civilians from sea-to-shining-sea. Your father glares
at me over a hymnal, grunts under his breath,
and I know that the “Dr.” in front of my name
means nothing, because as he’s already told you:
he saves real lives while my whole world is in my head.
I look up to see a beautiful and lithe Jesus, so gorgeous
in his sadness — blue eyes and alabaster skin, this erroneous version —
and for the first time, I actually feel sorry for Jesus. For the fact
that none of the miracles attributed to him have done
any of us any good. That at any moment our fathers could
have us nailed to a tree, or be slitting our throats like Isaac.
The minister is now-shouting. I’ve heard that compared to your parents’
denomination, my Protestant one was practically
a religion of liberation, when laid side-by-side to measure. But now
I’ve gotten past all that. Across the river right now, I know
the Freedom Tower stands defiantly like a stiff middle finger
to anyone that could help us save ourselves from ourselves.
And when we get up to recite the Lord’s Prayer, somewhere
out there in eternity the sound is choppy and the signal keeps
In winter in the city of New York I harbor
a secret pity for the sun, its muscles not strong
enough to push through cloud cover, cascade
over the Great Lawn and stretch out its fingers
along the grand avenues on this island.
In the borough of Brooklyn the endless
gray days break with my attempts to make
you laugh. Me, dancing like a cat with a sock
on its head, a sort-of apology for what you
found earlier, looking through my phone
for things you wished you’d known sooner.
In the neighborhood of Sunset Park I am afraid
of what has happened to the sun. Maybe we don’t
even deserve the sun. Maybe once we did,
but not anymore after all we’ve done.
I begin recalling my sun-kissed past, when our bodies
aligned like an eclipse as I passed over you,
savoring every errant beam until we spiraled out
of orbit risking the lives of all the land-based.
In my apartment alone for three days straight:
Bulleit rye and the Motley Crue biography.
I will believe in love again when I see it.
When it shows its face, curls up
at my feet and looks at me with those
solar eyes, that savage pull.
Three black students, faces streaked
with wet, come to my class late. I order
pizzas and we forget about research
The student and faculty
line-up stretches from 27th
to 28th. I over-think joining
them – a white man with
sign. What will that
mean and to whom?
Overheard on 6th Ave.:
“The corner bodega sees
no issue with selling loose
singles from six-packs on the
sly. The owners don’t usually get
choked-out over it, though.”
My police commissioner friend
orders an “emergency street
cleaning” after learning of a potential
“die-in” on the streets of Queens.
Hundreds shiver on a bed
of blacktop and ice.
We lie in your bed in Harlem. No use
trying the subway back to Brooklyn. The bridges
are closed – jammed with the sad and angry.
So we make love, trying to hold on to
something – twisting like
everyone else under the cat’s paw.
Ode and Declaration
I swish the trashcan free-throw, think about
what happens when only the core remains —
when irony blossoms into full-out
sincerity. How we share our stories like scars. These old pains.
This is what’s left when the bomb explodes
she said, patting my head. Now, my heart? A haunted
house. Lillium Stargazer, Bill Evans, the vaunted
pianist — I recite my favorite things. Being snowed-in.
Or that the blues in Spanish is jazz
de melancolia. Living a world
you wanted to live in as best as or as much as
I can. “So far, so bad” you would laugh, curling
your hair before bed, saying prayers at night
to root against me while I tried to be traveling light.
It is even more fun than chess in the park
with friends, or ducking out of the office on a pretty
afternoon citing a Mets double-header, on a lark.
Paris. The Seventies. Drinking cheap wine in someone else’s city.
We arrive just in time for breakfast at Versailles,
swaddled in downy robes and floating away
from New York like bees in brandy, sans goodbyes —
(Didn’t they see that we could never stay?).
Wild affairs and sad intrigues, being voted
Most Promising Introvert. Pouring light
from stone — our bedroom alchemy toted
from room to room by cover of night.
And then, while my desk fan whirs in a ballet of sighs,
I think: this could all be happening, right before my very eyes.
They say the neon lights are so bright it’s hard to make a plan on Broadway.
Last night I waltzed with the girls with the tallboy cans on Broadway.
The rain and the heat turned the sewers into fans on Broadway.
And as we drank and we laughed I was too far gone to even stand on Broadway.
An arm over the shoulder – as good as a blood oath on Broadway.
Or giving you my leather while you tell dirty jokes on Broadway.
Your Parliament kiss, your Chelsea boots – it’s like you were born on Broadway.
My provincial past and gnarled roots make me “lived-in” and “well-worn” on Broadway.
But as you went underground, I yelled “What’s the use?” on Broadway.
While the uptown N left me hanging like a lame excuse on Broadway.
Still, every morning I march with briefcase in hand on Broadway.
Dreaming of the nights when I will waltz with the girls with the tallboy cans on Broadway.
At age 7, never being one for finicky, pale and wan girls,
I saw Dr. No and my mind began jogging along a single track of glorious Bond Girls.
There was Ursula and Halle whose suits (like their hearts) couldn’t keep secrets.
But Vesper Lynd was one of those “We’ll make brainy love and then really bond” girls.
And Mary Goodnight, didn’t you know your golden-gunned man
could never be kept behind bars with an astronomical bond? Girls…
So sometimes, after a great day at work, I imagine myself the rogue: My pale blue trunks,
my Daniel Craig abs, returning home to a dirty martini and a dirty Bond Girl.
With my Cartier watch, my bespoke St. Laurent suit, all the advertisement
I’d ever need for the inevitable crushes of heaving, innocent Bond Girls.
But alas, like all things, Adam, the implicitly vulnerable tragically die
behind a pile of bills and emails and errands in your mind. “Here Lies Bond Girls.”
Before the sky cracked open (presumably) to cry for you,
I “repeated” Purple Rain for 1001 nights, practicing my chant of “I Would Die 4 U.”
During Ramadan, the Call to Prayer drops Brooklyn to its knees:
“A million mosques away,” I think, is what I would fly for you.
Instead, you send one last photo of a plane on the runway.
You quote Waits, watch as I “disappear” and I wonder: is this goodbye for you?
We are sinners; there is blood on our hands, yet I ask:
Who wouldn’t bless Jezebel tonight, the first night when she sighs for you?
A text can be a lifeline or a noose in my eyes.
I spend too much time devising my replies for you.
My rivals for your love have me captured as a wounded deer.
Judgment Day awaits: will St. Peter let this infidel scrape by for you?
But I, Adam Aaron, escaped, only to tell you this:
“Starlight, star bright…” can even bring God sobbing to my arms for you.
First, scare off the weak ones. For the husband-
shoppers, choose a photo of you, The Libertine.
To all the lost souls seeking comfort, a sly smile will do –
you’re not “comfortable.” Wear a tailored suit and an intense gaze.
You only get five pictures and there are rules.
No bathroom selfies or carefully tended pecs
glistening in the tropical sun. Hide your cat.
And that picture with your ex and your hair just-so?
Forget about it. Instead, be riding the Cyclone at Coney Island
or caressing a microphone, eyes turned upward to the heavens.
No one knows this is karaoke. You’re a man who is going
to have to make time for someone, you seem to be saying
while walking across the Brooklyn Bridge into
a glorious East River sunset.
For your brief tagline, don’t say “serial dater. “ You’re intrepid.
You love new cultures. Besides, ask a person to free-associate the first
word to come to mind when you say “serial.” This is scary
enough so don’t shoot yourself in the foot. But use the shotgun approach —
“like” everyone’s profile. Sharpen the saw of conversing
with strangers. Choose your search parameters wisely.
“Within five miles or less” will save you hours on the subway.
Stick to meeting in bars and coffee shops. Dinners are for anniversaries
and lingering conversations. When you’ve spent too many
Saturday nights alone, go back to your photos. Work on your tagline
like Rocky working on the ribs of Ivan Drago.
Ghazal for Letting Go
God missed out on another miracle while tweeting
from the heavens some tripe about “letting go.”
I remain grateful, Constance, for this fist-sized jewel I still
palm, inscribed: what you settle for becomes the standard you never let go.
His stubbornness was so famous it was gospel, his
refusal to bet on the horse called “Letting Go.”
My blood, the mismatched vintage to her spoiled palate
(a not quite rich enough Bordeaux): easy to spit out, easy to let go.
You left without warning so I hoisted the drawbridge
then poisoned the moat, whispering for months: “Adam: just. let. go.”
Now, brother, can you answer this: is love just
a wounded animal that wants to be held tight and never let go?