love me til i'm dead

  Wasn’t that 12th street

wasn’t it May


6:29 pm I was late


I’d just bought

Rob’s bildungsroman

you mean memoir

the bookseller

working the cash

register told me

you’re on the wrong

floor follow me

 

Told him I also needed to taste

what I was up against

 

signing myself

over to X agency

who’ll take 15%


of the rights


of the royalties


if they successfully

peddle my memoir

(whose takeaway

is messing up love

via capitalism)


& hawk it to some

Big Five publisher

who’ll give zero

shits not unless

it commercially bombs

& who’ll change

the French title


to a phrase more

marketable & also cut

the photograph

overlooking my third

apartment before

Sandy hit Brooklyn

wasn’t that 2012

 

6:31 pm I was skittering

across Broadway


my shoes killing me


& read Rob’s first sentence

(I needed also to hear

what I was up against)

“this must be the place”

it both pleased


& nonplussed me

thought unwittingly

of David Byrne


in Hollywood


c. 1984 onstage

singing “sing


into my mouth”


& “never for money,

always for love”


his white suit


& sweat stains

wasn’t that


Stop Making Sense

 

(Emily loves this song

I thought that’s


what I’m up against?)

 

Whacked the book

shut & muttered

intéressant, intéressant

stretching the a’s

& tittering at myself

a tiny gag my horrid

French accent


an abandoned toast

& thinking of X now

you Francophile

haven’t seen you

since that winter

3.5 years ago no


that was Scholes St.

when you wheezed

& said I’m uncertain

I’m that person


who waking loves

you anymore

 

yes, you

you said

 

& headed eastbound

when I looked up


& also marching

across 12th street

there was another X

I half-loved


that following spring

3.5 years ago she

gave me this

two- fingered salute

touching her brow

was she leaving


her seminar maybe

dinner with dad


I wouldn’t decide

thought unwittingly

instead of her

rheumy & I guess

also pellucid


eyes those nights

on Powers St.

on my stoop

when the stars

I said stunk of

beef tallow

 

My slack mouth

making a shy noise

when I saw her


it was like oh

but a century longer

 

“Out of all those

 kinds of people,”

my shoes sang

& killing me

 “we drift in and out”

 

& you could call

her name but no

you live here now

 

ain’t that America

on the radio


when the taxi

swerved around me

 

& the drug dog

licking anxiously

the other bigger

drug dog’s paws

 

that was Broadway

words like jornada,

chaparral, beldam,

snow blindness,

malanders, ilex,

rebozo, chivaree,

death camas

 

I bed down here now

 

new whorls


of blonde hair


& fur in my mouth

 

& when I wake up

4:01 am unsleeping

& the apartment’s

glum-smelling

like blue milk

& mustard seed

 

inside the amphora

there’s a third smell

a pair of ox-eyes

with their bruised

& drooped heads

isn’t it those flowers

some mornings

who aren’t always

already dead

when I wake up

& smell what I’m up against