miami in winter

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the city for all it’s might and mercy
seems a distant memory
along with the cold
and the wet snow
it is hard to imagine
not having to peel off layers
not having to wipe sweat from your forehead
it is foreign to think of
shoes covering feet
pants layered over leggings
sweaters surrounding thermals
and a thick wool coat completing the package
where identity disappears
and is replaced by a heaping lump
of unhappy new yorker
trapped inside
the depth of february

new york takes care

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(featured in issue 1.1 of dirt, as well as Bowery Women)

and just when you thought the city didn’t care anymore there’s a woman
from Avenue C who came walking with her husband saw your life
sprawling out on the sidewalk after bingo on tuesday night
so she picked up the pieces
and remembered the $100 she never got back
and called you and said
it’s okay, i got you

step over the shattered shot bottle of vodka
and wonder what it all means when the
package gets there just in time
in the midst of your family falling to pieces
tossed out onto the sidewalk
till an angel of mercy comes from bingo
with her husband and wonders
what you doin’ there to begin with
while she hands you your life back
before you know it
just when you thought the city didn’t care anymore

breathe

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your breath always tastes like you
and your eyes always feel like you looking at me
even with the thousand ways you manifest in a day
in a night
it is always you
lying there with a heavy arm around me
breathing me
feeling me

february 15, 2003

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it was the weekend of love and peace
on the day colored red and decorated with flowers by tradition
we were tinted orange for “safety”
and decorated with fear
some of us held steadfast in this city
knowing what the Truth was
and held our own private vigils of love
in the peace of our minds

by evening it was clear
that we were in the clear
on what they implied would be
the last night of our lives
so we did what we always did
drank a beer
laughed with love
and kissed goodnight

in the morning the sun greeted us
and infused our soon-numb feet with fire
when it was time to dance to the rhythm of peace drums
love and passion for life lifted us
through the newly militarized zone of midtown manhattan
we held true on our promise
to stay on the sidewalks
while we exercised the most American right of all

but the sidewalks burst open to the streets
and it soon became clear
that they were not ready
for such a voluptuous volume of love to erupt
after dousing some flames with the denial to march

but they were ready for violence
they incited it themselves, don’t let them fool you

they penned us in like animals
and lest we forget
we humans are indeed animals
and will carry out our natural duty to act as such
when trapped and caged
and denied our basic human rights

with horses and mace they drove us back
flaunted smug power against absolute reason
in china we would have been killed immediately
but we are not in china
we are in america
land of the free
and the first amendment
is it enough to be simply not dead?

they broke us with time and weather
they separated us
stopped us
held us down and took us away
but it was the weekend of love and peace
so we fought back unarmed
and pushed through to remember
all those who had pushed before us
and finally stood in the rally cage with millions worldwide

we sang our love with swollen throats
and danced for peace on broken feet
never to be tamed by the unjust

blind

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so tell me
can you see my scars?
do they glow in the dark?
are they raised up and mangled,
like they were at the scene?
or are they just smooth disruptions
on an otherwise stubbly body?

to me they’re part of the scenery
telling a parable from ancient history
(or sometimes comic reruns from last week)
they are motionless and malleable
they tell my story too easily
and with a recklessness i’ve long since forgotten
i am too careful now
to see them in all their glory
but i listen every day
to what they have to say