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I Can Take A Hint

I'd sworn off of cigarettes
after watching the flesh of filthy fingers
tap their way through Fibonacci.
I'd kissed the lips of such an addict,
spat tar and social intellect for days.
I'd fallen in love with a pickett fence smile
only to find that the grass
had been greener on the other side.
I'd descended from a smoke ring
with no choice but to breathe it in.
I'd given nothing other than a new meaning
to the word devotion.
Until finally I shuffled through a deck of cards
and sat there envying the king of hearts.
I bet that he doesn't hurt anymore.


I went to church. This is what I heard.

It happened in a small town in New York. A boy brought a gun to school and killed 7 children.
Shit. Spit.
dragged across the floor
paints more than
red black and blue,
not quite an IOU
but nothing short of beautiful.

All of the mothers rushed to find out if it was their child. It was somebody's child. It's always somebody's child. The mom went home and stared at her son's unmade bed, at his muddy shoes, at his dirty clothes. She washed the clothes and made the bed. Put the sneakers in the garage on the shelf. It wasn't real. It was a dream. Then the hospital called and asked if they had permission to transplant his organs. She said yes, and his kidneys went to a dentist. His heart went to a minister. Two years later, she found that minister and talked, laughed, and cried with him for hours. And as she was about to leave she cocked her head, stared into his eyes, thought for a second and asked if she could listen to it- if she could hear her son's heart beat one last time. So she pressed her ear up against his chest for hours and heard the most beautiful sound in the world.
And she left
a changed woman.

There was a monk in northern Greece that had a dream of making a pilgrimage to the great city of Jerusalem. There he would walk around the basilica three times and kneel on the earth and the dirt and find God peeking down on him. He saved his money until he was old enough to say he was getting old. Then, he grabbed his cloak and his staff and his bag of coins that would carry him to Israel, but he didn't get very far. He made it half a mile before he saw a tattered beggar with tattered excuses for clothes and a tattered heart. The man asked for help. He had a family. The monk stared into his eyes and thought for a second. Then he gave the man his bag of coins and walked around him three times then knelt. Kissed the earth like a haymarket square but with nothing there.
And he left
a changed man.

I wrote a letter once. It was to somebody who knew me better than she realized, but she didn't realize what she knew. I wrote a letter about a little boy and a little girl who made a tire swing up on a hill somewhere back in the fifties. I wrote a letter about a teenage boy listening to lo-fi tapes in his bedroom for hours. I wrote a letter about a little boy, mid-twenties with his back up against a column that was holding up a hospital in upper New York City. A boy who fell asleep on the subway on the way home. And as the wheels rattled through the veins of the city born to me eighty years ago, my dream went like this.

I would see you like a hand reeled movie
sleeping on a park bench
in a town too small to go unnoticed in.
Waking up from a small hill in Tennessee with our bodies imprinted on it's crest.
A man would ask you if you had ever cried
and you would say yes
but it was red and soon drenched
in whiskey to help the pain
and save some face.
Save some for me, you'd say to your slipping hand
but it was already gone to your veins and the floor and a little in your jeans.
You hadn't hesitated, you just hadn't thought of stopping
And you would think of whether or not
you should have told him all of this.
And whether it was right to lie about such important things
But it wouldn't be important enough to think about until later.
When you would have time
and a place to sleep
that wasn't so quiet
and so lonely. A place with more people,
where nobody cared that you were there,
on their park benches,
on their minds.
A place in Andalucía with other people like you.

I crawled out of the steam into the lower east-side
opened my eyes
walked around the block three times
and fell to my knees at the mercy of a dark alleyway
Whatever comes out can have me
I thought
And I kissed the pavement
let an insult bounce by
And I thought about dreams
of us taking a steam ship to Spain
and worrying about not taking in the sunset
for as long as it was
but it would only get better until it disappears
and dreams of sleeping in Seville
and leaving everyone else behind
but now your bound here. You’re
buried here
you’re etched in stone here
Embossed in the city here.
Lady Liberty once said she welcomed me
But I don't know if that means
I'm allowed to leave
it wouldn't be the first time
but this time
I just wouldn't tell her that I wouldn't be coming back.

Maybe it's better that she never knows.
Off to Andalucía And I Lose You.


you took me outside
and started making a snow angel.
"Won't you make a snowman for her?" you said
while the december air gripped my body
and whipped my head.
I flashed you my bare hands,
already bitten by the wind,
and asked,
"Now what do you think?"
not expecting an answer good enough
to keep me out there for long.

and you didn't give me one,
so I waddled back inside
leaving you
to make an army for heaven.

but now
when the city's asleep on a blistering winter's night,
I walk underneath the halo
of an empty streetlight and pray.
I pray she's found a saint,
who'd withstand whatever weather
with no complaints.

and as my feet become one with the asphalt
I reflect on a single, sad thought
'til the break of day:

men like me,
even those made of snow,
are not for angels.


I waited outside Laura's house,
leaning against the Honda
that my mother didn't know I borrowed.
She wouldn't suspect innocent
little Benjamin of any harm or impulse.
It made me nervous inside,
because she was right.
No guts,
no glory.

But tonight was pretty gutsy, I must admit.
I told Laura that I'd take
her and her sister to a party and
we'd all get shitfaced.
My stomach started to churn with
the buzzkill questions that
most teenagers disregard.
Who's going to stay sober and drive?
What if there's drugs?
What if she puts out?
Does she have condoms?
Should I have gotten some?

Took a deep breath,
prayed to the God she didn't know I trusted
so fervently
and tried to convince myself that
this was a normal thing to do
as they got in the back seat.

And as I knew it would,
the courage turned to
just plain impulse,
by the image
of her dilluted, drunk body,
telling me she
loved me
loved me,
kissed me
and wanted to fuck me

The light turned red, and
I made that rookie mistake.
I slammed my foot
on what I thought was the brake,
flew into traffic
and died looking very unheroic.