Friday, April 13, 2012

what i remember

in chicago there was this manicure place called pure rain
the women there speak mongolian to each other
my nails were painted a pearly sky-blue
the pedicure was in a turquoise swirling bath
i recommend their services and wish i could go there again
now i need a new colour
this pale shade chipped by my clambering
perhaps tomorrow something flash for new york
now we're a little better acquainted
make her smile and laugh in that almost girlie way
with her hard eyes half-closed
she's a glorious monster with many heads
some speak to me while I'm passing
'i sleep well at night' said an old man going by this morning
another murmured, 'that sucks' into his phone
then a triple-lipsticked woman in cream with fly-eye sunglasses drawled
'people with their insecurities'
half to her companion and at the end she turned
half-looking at me in green paisley and ferocious jewellery
she nearly smiled

i'd just been to Miss Hoe again to get my bracelet fitted
it has large marbled links - painted
a white rabbit charm and a clock
a teeny green bow
this hoop made of faux-twigs and another twig to attach and undo
i have a gun earing
and a doll with grey hair earring by the same designer
am clicking and unclicking
reciting Maori to myself in my head
kei te pai kei te pai kei te pai
it's good it's fine it's well
while i walk past a homeless man waving a sock
another on a lean who eyes my walking stick
i sometimes raise it a few centimetres off the road at an angle
then it looks a little like a rifle
depending who is looking at me and why i think they are
'if you fall new york will not care' said my chameleon guide last evening
'you must not fall'
and my favourite annoying best friend back from siberia
wrote 'do not fight new york.
it will win.'
then 'you will have better luck today'

o but last evening
another string of eateries and sights
the greenwich village cobbles
a taxi dropped us where we could walk
since this guide likes tricks and ringmastery
he's a circus and a roustabout
with some kind of tally to make i gather
we may argue over this analysis later like we could make it into salad
eaten words or just too green
so anyway - back to the clique of wishes here
at a bar about 100 years old and as long and thin as a last hope
we sat at the worn wooden lip of it
met a woman - from waitomo nz originally
left there long ago for london
now works here in nyc and runs bars
my third drink i clicked out of traveller into someone else
the writer personality with distance in it
everything a completely urban landscape framed with Guinness
while i watched
she told us a story while opening a time still missed
and we two recently met writers sat in our bubble
me more than him
both responding truthfully
(she runs the MikNic Lounge in Brooklyn
this black card says "F" train to Caroll St
apparently poetry there and music
but we were in the Bowery
or I think so)

a kicked spilt glass jar of red sauce
the utter rudeness of a chinese place
some unfair lights and soup
so many isms it's a dictionary in here
where's the cover?

how things
muddle and the roads and pavements
on my walk to the post office today
244 East Third Street
i tried to find an eatery i didn't feel afraid of entering
so many doorways looked like dark mouths
something kept me moving on til a green awning
and thirst determined
this deli run by two dark men high behind a laden counter like a stage
beside a cooler cabinet stuffed with meats and salads
bagels and rolls like cocoons above
the place crammed with wares like impossible promises
so much food i could've lived there for months
turned sharply in my ridiculous idea as smartly as a ninja
killed the worry
'would you like something?'
picked up croissants in cellophane wrappers
found a cabinet packed with drinks
berry smoothie
then a powdered sugar doughnut wrapped as well
all into a black plastic bag
as much petro-chemical wrapping as carbohydrate

took me another block or two to dare drink some
cannot explain the ordeal of a to b here except as a life or death game
with various deities hovering and placing bets
in plain sight
they want people to know
making it here is nothing like anywhere else
just a walk to the corner with a camera
can feel like mythical beasts watch every move
and the flirting
the male attention
the braggadocio  
as puzzling to me as if aliens have landed with hand signals
they want something
i cannot supply it
and no way to show i wish them well anyway really
a smile seems the worst idea
but i could be wrong
and my feet hurt

the us post office as usual austere
heavy counters secure as a factory payroll record
when I said 'four stamps for postcards to New Zealand please'
the whole place kind of stirred
(about nine people in the queue)
the monster notices every little difference
sometimes smiles or raises eyebrows or gapes
this appeared to be surprised interest - peering
a slightly different reaction when i said
'and this parcel for seattle and this for chicago...'
the beast kind of settled smugly on its paws

then later a man held the PO door for me
he beamed
'have a good weekend'
wondering is that enough response or too much?

leaden garden sculptures i walked past
all arranged behind a high rusted iron barred fence
blobs of pale green, heavy mask-like totems and putty-coloured runnels
they made me think of fear in a gigantic cage
with a lush lawn floor
all long and after the grafittied blue post box creaked open and closed
it's mechanical here
a drawer to place items on then tip it back
check to see there's nothing remaining

i briefly wished i'd given the so polite beggar earlier money
his tall black self behung with objects
hat off and a smile across his crumpled face
voice as quavery as a half-broken doll's
but my old rule stands here too
if i'm alone i never stop in the street to answer anyone
keep on walking and tell them the time (or whatever)

when they ask for money just walk on by
a woman alone anywhere the most vulnerable
(after a child alone)
i want to cry 'protect us, love us, beware of yourselves'
and alone we all really are
but can hide it next to others
in a laugh
or conversation
some exchange of (place object here)
yes i remember these and more
here with my hotel-hostel air conditioner
in a teeny room so common in this enormous
and i recall you too
can you see my eyes?
do not let me stay here to be eaten
the monster and i have to part company
yes - tell it some story about how bad i taste
my bones could cut it they're glass and steel
you know the way we laugh at the sky?

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