I put my hand on it, slip between the buttons, they tremble like jello too warm but stiff at the peak -- the drip of it like milk on the tip of my finger and then by tongue -- the feel of it like all I ever imagined my mouth on your mouth seated in the dark where I wait for permission to take the next step, move up or down or more like in or out, the scent of something in me overheating so I hold on, quivering like it quivers stiffing like it stiffens waiting for you to grab hold and shake it up, quivering inside and out
This old highway looks mostly the same struck with images of another time this car like my grandpa's car easing down narrow lanes looking for something we might never find, the boat yard were he worked so hard filled with mast like a forest the bungalos he build back then yellowed and tattered from too much when the fruit stand where we always stopped closed for the season, maybe forever the sad face of some broken watch that tells the time I ache to remember and still there are things that cling to this place the roots of a life we still love the paint disguises a familiar face which we can never get enough of I ride this road it is in my blood these miles I feel like an old love my head hungover each lost mile my lips lift with a saddened smile Route 35 where I ride even when I'm barely alive The beat of it hard in my chest with every little hill I crest Route 35 is where I ride right up to the day I die How many roads can I recall how many dreams both big and small How many things upon this road this life I live, the life I know
I love the way her lips glow in the dark club, red, white, as if she has just sucked blood, I wish was mine Sometimes, I even see her eyes, reflecting the stage lights, like bat's eyes, seeing but not seeing, she uses other senses to seek us out in the dark, and we need no extra ordinary sense to find her, we always know where she is, even when we struggle not to, aching all the time for a wet kiss we miss and know when we don't we'll taste our own blood dripping out of her mouth, her laugh is a strill as a bat's laugh, and yet we keep coming back, hoping to get bitten.
She rubs two sticks together and comes up with an over- heated me, pressed between the palms of her soft hands, rubbing as if I am the bottle out of which a genie might emerge, someone who might grant her three wishes or the ability to plunge deep. I ache all over from her touch, scalded to the soul, a contest winner who does not yet know the prize I've won, letting her manipulate all of me, reshaping me into whatever she wants me to become, moist and desperate to know she won't ever stop, begging for whatever future she intends as long as she keeps rubbing, a regular girl scout making fire with the slightest touch
The day before the army got me, Max took me out to get me drunk and get me laid. I'd just turned 18 and he believed if basic training didn't kill me, Vietnam would. The drunk was easy even though I was under age -- Max knew all the bartenders in all the bars though why he picked the bar he did was a mystery to me -- just as was his idea of whom I might get laid by since the only people he introduced me to were men and even then I thin he was only showing me off so he could bring me home to his place later. He kept telling me the whole night he didn't want to see me die a virgin. I kept telling him I wasn't a virgin. But in his eyes, I learned later, I was. I must have disappointed him when I got drunk, but not laid. that night instead went home to sober up for the sober ride to Fort Dix from Newark the next day. I heard about the riot even before Max wrote -- his letter full of guild at not being the one to have fought back -- a frail flower child who set lady bugs free -- could not raise his fist when other I'd men on my night with him did. On an after-basic pass, I I made the same trip with him to the same place to meet the same people only to find all of them had changed -- or what it me? Max was as proud as a rooster, and crowed over each, introducing them as the heroes they were, each wearing invisible medals of honor on their puffed-out chests, each having endured and enrured until they could endure no more. The drunk was different although the outcome was the same -- I took the bus home to Paterson alone. Max took up with some hero from Christopher Street and later he wrote me in Fort Dix that he had pretended it was me. "I love you," he wrote at the end of this one of his many letters. "I love you, too, Max," I wrote back in one of the very few I gave in return, "and I always will."
Half moon rises against a black sky, like a large white eye caught in half a wink, warmth of a late August rubbing against me as I stumble from the porch, the carress of night making the empty- ness more acute -- I am Peter Pan always running away from home, in real life as as a kid, in my mind as an adult, needing to to feel the world pressing against my limbs, tasting it on the tip of tongue, embracing it with both my arms to keep it close -- this moonlight like a powerful drink, leaving me drunk and staggering as I stumble through the night.
Lost road, this ride through distant past -- this mark 35 years old where the detour started and has yet to stop -- that three day over two nights trip to the place from which I alone would return -- drive there, fly back -- my last bird flight over the endless stretch of what has become one great sea of light. the last face at airport looking at lift off seen a decade later at his mother's funeral and then never again -- the shreds of a once close family, spread across the landscape, the surviving bits of something I never thought I would miss, but now miss everyday -- survival as much a curse as a blessing -- me remembering most the boxes of buttons we packed for that trip back as if that particular part of the planet lacked that singular piece of civilized life. This existence always marked by significant moments we can't help dwell upon even when all we sometimes want to do is forget.
She wears stocking as if she was all leg, slick, black hose going the whole way up -- and I can look no where else-- like a road sign point me to the place I want to go most -- no GPS needed -- just nerve to make a move I see her here every night the band plays, an icon of the Red Baron Lounge, as regular as the bartenders, who punch in and punch out -- she wearing a too-tight top and skirt that outlines her in my mind, just enough touch of breast for my imagination to fill in. I always want to buy her a drink and think of a thousand clever lines I might drop in her ears, lines she never hears about the roar of guitar she's come for And I watch those stockings shimmer as she makes her way out with one guitarist or another, and I tell myself it will be me the next time.
The rain rubs under the wheels through Hoboken, then Jersey City, just enough rattle to make me realize I am still alive, sunlight flowing over me through the tinted windows and into my soul, I feel this journey rather than see it, I taste the polluted air that oozes off the highway and yet I feel unstained, the motion moving me in time and space, inside and out, these faces of work people clustered near me, strangers but not strange, as familiar as family who shored such trips, a grand mother's wandering to New York to type each day, a grandfather who followed her and his own heart.
I eat figs on the beach and think of you, the sway of the sea, the grit of sand with each step I take, the sense of being lost, or small like a snail struggling to escape the wrath of gulls -- my bones hurt from kneeling or running, my head fogged up like a stranded sail boat I never know which way to go or even where I have come from, or worse where you are when I can't see you I eat figs and taste you, so sweet a dish I ache to taste even more, my tongue rough over the spilling seed, my need dripping from me I am always lost in these dunes, pretending my life is lived in castles of sand, waiting for the moment when the waves wash them away, I eat fights and think of you.
A cool breeze touches my cheek with the promise of rain. I always ache for rain this time of year and so wait for it's arrival. I miss the scent of river or sea most on days like these -- recalling when I sat at the foot of the river near the bay under the extended branches of isolated trees to watch the clouds rush in -- this near where some fool tried to rebuild an old hotel only to burn it down when he realized he could never make his money back -- and sold the land off for condos later, spoiling that one small sacred place. When the rain comes finally, it smells of pavement -- the strange metallic scene that comes when the drops first hit the over-heated asphalt -- a smell I remember from when I was very small, and this, too, brings me back -- if not to the same place or time, then to the same sense of peace.
Green fills the window of the yard side of my house muffling the clang of the rail road on the far side of the highway that in early spring keeps me awake, I do not know what the sound of silence sounds like only the high and low where inside and outside of my head -- especially in the early morning when I wake with the fear of what I should have, could have done and did not, silence is a gift from god, bequeathed on the innocent or the feeble of mind, of which I am neither, and all I have is a volume control to keep from driving myself crazy.
You are the bird I hear each morning when I wake, a call that stirs me up from dreams not sweet so much as compelling as I toss aside the covers and rise. You are the whisper of the leaves rustling with the night breeze, a whisper in ears I strain to catch, aching to under- stand just what is said, and I cannot sleep for the pain of it. You are the sound of rain I hear midday when I am alone on my porch, the forlorn song of loneliness I cannot cure, the desire to leap under and drench myself in the flow and know down deep what you are, You are the howl of wind I hear when I ache most, the sire of the deep I plunge into the dark to find, my moans an echo to yours as I rise and fall, this tide in which I drown and never regret it.
Sweat dribbles down my cheek as I walk up the viaduct from Hoboken to Union City, to Jersey City and beyond, the rub of cloth against my chest and thighs, the heavy breath -- the rhythm of movement in the over heated air and the taste of salt as sweat drips to my lips and mouth -- a life's journey, up and down, in and out, over and around, each movement pressing me against the powerful fires of a nature I am never able to over come, but ache to surrender when the most I can do is keep on
The rain comes in sheets, rapping against the windows as I try to sleep, this night stretching out into morning so I do not know even with eyes open in which day I am, feeling the wet fingers tapping on me and inside and out -- waking to wonder and doubt, feeling the stern clouds behind my eyes and the crack of lightning in my loins, aching for something more than sleep can provide -- the tick tick tick of a clock I cannot clearly see, only hear, and feel along with my heart beat I ham shrouded in doubt and worry over things I can not pin down -- each thought like a buzz of a mosquito in my hers and in the fear of when it might bite.
I stagger even in sunlight, hung over on moon glow I can't get out of my head, a mist so frail around me I break through it with every step, summer all stretched out around me on every side and still I feel a chill, the wait of city sirens like magpies in my ears so small and fast I can't swipe them away. I taste loneliness on the tip of my tongue like the bitter remains of win drunk in darkness but grows stale in this dawn -- all too stark in this morning light, like a bleached out color film turned into hazy sepia of black and white -- Everything seems too big, too well-defined, street sign groaning on rusted hinges with each gust of wind, a groaning I feel inside as I walk, a stiff unrelenting sense of reality I cannot make soft -- this haze around me an illusion that does not change the world but is what I live like, an envelop I cannot find an escape, bursting out for a moment only to fall back into its folds.
In moon light, everything changes, the boiling point of blood, the rising tides cannot extinguish because the fire inside sealed in, building up, like a pod ready to explode, with moonlight as the instigation as the flame under it, to make it worse high tide all the time and rising not from global warming but from some more primitive instinct, some element of the elemental found as far back as the caves we either learn release it or we are consumed, waiting out the moon cycle until we can breathe easy again.
The cool air pressed against my chest with both hands fingers making me pulsate with their touch I seek the sea because it flows inside and outside me making me ache to dip my oars in the dark of this mysterious sea that so vibrates under my keal this life floating over something so full I come to it again and again and always want for more
If this is but a dream why can't I dream it in this heart so hard that it would be deny me sport that exists only in my mind or the real love that can never be made real the real feel no one can feel but in such a state of dream, and just because I feel does not mean the other must feel it, too, if but a dream then it is best a dream of sweetness I must dream or perish.
I breathe too hard this in and out that leaves me breathless, and empty, a balloon expired all in one gush, I drink too much -- sucking it up like the proverbial sponge -- needing a miracle to turn water into more wine or whiskey I fuck too often filling up every furrow like a farmer does seed, scared something might come of it, so I hang on, I sleep too little, scared of the dreams that haunt me even if I dose - those what-if dreams where I imagine the worst of what might happen and wake believing the worst did. I cry too little and least of all for myself, thinking that self pity is a crime even when deserved we pacing the jail cells of our own lives counting off days to the end of a sentence we really do not want to end, if I was a praying man - I'd pray less for salvation than the belief I can be saved, a small blessing God has yet to grant me
They shimmer like jewels in the dark -- but red -- hot as coals after the fire has just gone out -- I burn my fingers and my tongue with just a start -- and I don't care -- and keep my stare until I am so consumed I cannot stop. I burn up inside until I glow, too. They shimmer and I shake, they quiver and I ache, red like fire, but cool as ice, with me ready to burn either way, unable to tell which is which, like an itch which I cannot possibly scratch -- it goes too deep and to be rid of it I'd have to peal my skin off and delve down into bone where it all aches most they shimmer and I shake and we both glow red in the dark.
These things we do we do without regret because we will forget though in the dead of night we wake and sweat and sweat and yet come only close to regret I dream of things I have never done should have, would have or things done of which I might take back-- a word said, a glance glance, the unsaid like the undead always haunting lingering into wakefulness like a ghost I rattle my chains in my sleep like Marley did and tell myself I have no regrets
If I touch you will you respond? Will you let me take the next step? Will it feel as good to you as to me? We spend our lives divided, each on a different side of some imaginary line we fear to cross, aching to embrace, but scared we might not accept the next step such a touch might bring, aching without reason when if I touch you there or elsewhere the pain will each into pleasure, and we might find this touch in that place is what we wanted from the start. If I touch you there will you care enough to let me take the next step?
So how soft is it, I think as I drink at the bar and watch her in the mirror, a mirage I dare not look at directly or go blind. I live in the midst of myth like this, recalling warnings I heard as a kid about wanting too much of the wrong things, and how I might end up bad -- never able to understand then or now how it might be possible to ache more or to want less, and now much more of a curse I might get if I crossed over the imaginary line between need and want into know. So how soft are those lips and how sweet would they taste if kissed? Will I spend enternity in hell if I insist on a kiss since I already know a kiss is not the bliss I seek, but only the eye in the lock -- as if wanting the way I do is as much a sing as doing. Why should I deny it if I am already doomed to burn, and how much worse will that fire be than the fire raging already inside me?
I want to drink her up until I am drunk shedding one intoxication for one I better understand, I need to know why I stagger around in this fog, bumping my head on things I cannot see -- if I cut my finger I would better explain the pain I feel, see blood I bleed now inside -- it would be a wound I might stitch up with hope to heal, rather than this vague ache I can find no cure for I I could only drink her in where I could understand her better, letting her inspect me from the inside out, I might know what is wrong or right, might find a way to come to terms with this confusion ongoing in my head -- I could pin the cause on what I know I actually did to myself though I know what I feel now, this hazy ache, this trembling shake, this vast mistake I caused, I just don't know how I did it and so do not know how to undo it, or even if I want to undo it at all.
Do you feel it, this touch here? this place where I place my fingers, where I can only feel from the outside, not in, and ache for a touch so close I cannot tell which of us is which. I used to think the back seat of my chevy was enough, that wide space over which I could explore the world, like an orbiting astronaut who thought I knew all there was to know when Until I touched down and touched all I saw, I knew nothing -- and even then a touch was not enough to know all that went on inside, to touch beneath the surface of this world, to feel what stirs inside, to plunge deep into its moist surface, and breath it all in until I drown
So smooth, my fingers slip each time I grasp -- you cant steal something you can't pick up. You can't touch something that isn't real. I used to admire boys who learned how to dance, edging as close to unreality as reality might allow, fingers entwined, chest pressing chest, guessing at which point they might make contact with the beyond -- all they need to worry about is keeping their feet from stumbling over your feet, a hard concept when the they can feel you breath so close and their minds delving deep where they ache to go
I hear the words in my head before I scribble them down, trying to make out which came first, each letter hatched out of an infinitity I can't adequately define, I recall the shape of her face, from slanted mouth to almond eyes, but cannot create a word that tells me what goes on inside her head. We each live in a self created world of our own delusion, assumptions we use as facts, biases we believe untainted, giving each words we offer as proof, spelling it out, spilling blood like ink, until the whole page bleeds, and yet is no closer to being real than a page without them. I need to reach in and feel her to know what is real or not, to learn for myself what she is made of -- this golden goose, this fair princess, this figure of my amazing imagination, I hear the words in my head as I scribble and believe no one of them.
She's always been a dream to me, the heat of a blazing sun that warps air and creates illusions or a wisp of water vapor that for a moment takes a shape I ache to seize then breaks between my fingers, this desperate soul I so believed, but was deceived by, the ghost in the attic that exposed herself in moon light when I ache most and when I am most tempted to believe, a man perpetually poised at the prepadice of self deceipt needing but one poor excuse to believe again with all my heart and soul in someone who was never really real
She believes everything with all her heart, always the school girl with a school girl crush on that one special teacher she would do anything to please, and did, each new lover bearing the same basic imprint, carrying the same burden of belief, she must take as faith or shrivel up and cease to exist. She always believes it all until she ceased to believe by which time she is so bitter she can't believe in anything even herself, the girl who changes everything like she changes a dress, confident only if all the piece line up, the accessories matching the wardrobe she has most recently adopted, she believes everything with all her heart, right up to the moment her heart falls apart. She believes everything she is told until she doesn't, and then she believes in nothing, especially herself.
If two were one, then neither could survive if one becomes two again I don't want to find that half if you people tell me I lost something in another life. I need you to be you whole and alive choosing to be where you are when you're with me We search for love like we're searching for the missing link, thinking we've lost something in some other life that we get back when we meet here, how crazy is that to think that we walk around in more than one body and somehow manage to survive when half of us is breathing through some other set of lungs -- this need to be complete saying we are less of what we are and can't be unless be absorb you. What horror movie did we get this from, where love requires us to consume another body, and still somehow to think of this as love, when inside we build love on shackles and chains?
I never wanted anything more than a kiss because I never thought I could ever get more, seducing your lips across the table from me day in and day out, like the lock to a treasure I knew I had no key to unlock, but like a burglar thought I might gain access that grew into a fire I could not control, the wish for a kiss and then a wish for much, much more -- and yet knowing I'd be lucky if a kiss was all I got, that lock pressed so tight I could not wedge it open with a crow bar, so how much more was the surprirse when it gave way, taking me in, filling me up, until I overflowed, this a Freudian slip, though sometimes, a kiss is just a kiss, when down deep, I know it isn't.
Sometimes, the best way to say it , is not say it at all, and take the guff in silence and know that even at a distance you can care like a shadow cares, not substantial enough to give or accept a hug but to hang in and hope the way only a shadow can hope, knowing that without you, the shadow ceases to exist.