Bukowski met a Dutchman
at a Philly bar in the 40’s.
The seventy-something sat
with a straight, broad back
and cracked three raw eggs
into each pint he drank.
Bukowski, a frail, twenty-something
virgin, felt afraid in the Dutchman’s
presence, this seventy-something,
still strong, a working man,
a dying breed, although immortal
now, thanks to the sickly little
man with a funny name. The difference
between each like that of starvation
and anorexia, one true, the other contrived.
It don’t matter
what it is,
whether fear or desire,
as long as it’s real,
the flame that is.
In 2013 I saw burning streets
and violence natural and unnatural,
a city on fire.
I helped a man as old
as the three digit temperature
up the subway stairs
on my way to work
and each step took
ten heart beats.
The sweat became
our salvation as his charcoal
face sagged and showed no emotion.
His shaking cane gave no support
so I took his arm and led him above
steaming concrete into aching light.
I expected gratitude and received
none, which was better somehow
I walked through solidifying heat
and desired to keep the encounter
secret in order to appreciate
its value and yet I ruined
it by bragging in casual conversation
w/ a wealthy customer.
Just like that it didn’t matter
anymore like everything else
out in the open
our city’s setting sun.
That man sees beyond
this passing train as he holds
his son's restless hand
fingering for tomorrow.
A moment we sit
in, staring in,
thru ruins, pounded gray
pavement, crumbled red
canyons children cannot escape
from unless in death.
That man's eyes, no less
darker than the altered
ground from which his boy
are blind to mine
as I see myself standing
in his place
amidst a decayed city
grasping onto the limb
of an invisible sapling.
Communication sent between colors
has no meaning. Meanwhile, you yearn
for purpose amidst plaster safe-havens.
The children fall asleep in city streets
and dream green and brown covered
in red and blue, anxious for the day
that all they have to worry for is starvation.
Which will be the first for your sepulcher?
Exposure or drugs or any other unclean
invader of your sterility? And yet you crave
the sick man sitting only two amputated feet
away, smiling around others also in pain,
knowing running in the light is more tedious
than nothingness. Yearning for that instant
of beautiful survival.