Why I stay.


A sinking balloon with string tied to my wrist,
the week comes to Sunday and I am not responsible for rooftop
skyscape, with the perfect moon tugging on your striped
shirt sleeve to remind you: I am not on vacation.

Sip bad shiraz, sit on laps,
sound subversive
when the moon and the Empire State Building take over
the conversation. I am not on vacation here,

I live this, all my shit piled up to the
bed, jeans and books and underwear and schedules
frolicking wildly. I’m not looking. My ashtrays
runneth over. I won’t disappear when the plane
takes off. No vacation here,

I don’t get on any planes, I never even take cabs anymore,
my feet are rooted to the cement garden of this city.
Citibank and AmEx send their goons; I
have to ask you to buy me a drink, you sailor,
my first trick.

My blood flows like traffic up First Avenue on days where
the Limited bus catches all the lights; it gathers at
the center like the day the lights broke at Bowery and Houston,
only one lone cop who happened not to know how to direct
traffic was there. Luckily, I am not on vacation,

I am not a tourist standing here, mouth-breathing, fishing
for clean air. Maybe I scratched the surface too hard, but
too late — now I know you play piano and go to the Sonic
Ballroom or maybe Blue Shell looking for pieces of me, and
I’m your first. I will be your last, it’s too late, the lid
is blown and the plane is taking off. But I am not on vacation,

I am looking down the hazy subway tunnel, waiting for the tracks
to glimmer, light up, tell me my train is coming. A man walks
down Houston with his boxers over his jeans, dancing to Michael
Jackson on his little radio. We dance a little together and he
makes me laugh with him. This is why I can’t leave New York yet,

why I can’t give up yet. I can’t help but think I make a
difference simply by not saying, Fuck this, I’m going to Europe.
I can’t leave them behind — who will change the lightbulbs
for my old neighbors upstate and make sure they get
a square meal? — which is why we ate spaghetti for dinner
every single night this week and splurging is buying Paul Newman
sauce instead of Prego. The current is spiraling
but I’ve still got three fingernails dug into the sink,
foamy bubbles of cynical laughter keep us all afloat here.


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