Hostile, NYC, Proud

The deranged cyclist

My bike is my beast. I hit the streets with that trusty steed and blow through intersections like the laws don’t apply to me.

I forgot to take my meds. I’m shaky and I’m loud. I’m not unproud. I see myself making a scene; removed from it as if in a dream.

They all wish I would remain unseen. They think I’m unclean. Obscene.

I don’t prove them wrong. I shout from my cycle, yell thoughts that sound profound in my head, but come out profane. Am I insane? Maybe. Am I to blame? Who’s to say?

But who likes to slough through each day as if in a swamp; drugged and dopey; kept from feeling the few small things that still make me feel human?

Those pills are inhumane. Even if without them I’m insane. I’d rather not drain my brain of the last bits that make me want to remain.

So try to refrain. Just look the other way while I display my pain.

Just look the other way.


The man in the dumpster

The Man in the DumpsterYou’d be surprised what people will throw away, you know.

There are gems hiding in garbage bins, things tossed that could be recycled, reused or reimagined.

When did we decide that once-used novelties were destined for dumpsters?

And why, if these items have no value to you, do you look at me as if I’m a thief when I try to revive them?

I have a home, or an occasional one. I work when I can. I don’t traverse your trash cans because I need to. I do it because I believe that you are the one that should be ashamed. Not me.

A garbage haiku:

shards of glass glitter

radiant in the wreckage

concrete chandelier


The four-year-old in the airport

Airport“Don’t touch,” her mother scolds, but she needs to.

The saturated candy stands, glossy sheets, fuzzy things – how could a backpacked explorer not want to reach out and discover them? Run her fingers over untouched pages; the first to lay claim to their margins.
“Don’t touch!” her mother shouts, but who wouldn’t want to? Should her fingers lay shackled to her hand, fused with her wrist, stuck to her side?
Her mom looks away and she strokes the furry “C.”
Later, when some weary traveller buys that neck pillow, it’ll bear traces of that little girl’s spirit: her defiance, her curiosity, and maybe some jam.
“Let go,” her mother tugs.
She proceeds, empty-handed.

The man with the dirtiest hands

Dirty Hands(Full disclosure: I stole this one out of an old notebook from high school, when I was a barista in an espresso bar.)

You grab your small coffee.

Medium, if it’s early.

You hand over your change with hands that are careful and calloused.

I feel guilty for hesitating at your touch, but – you have the dirtiest hands I’ve ever seen. As if it wouldn’t matter if you washed them.

I’m intrigued by the bits of you I’ve collected. How you refuse to accept the title “sir,” pretend you’d never argue with a woman, and wouldn’t take a million dollar prize – you’d rather earn it. You clean up real nice when it suits you, but your rugged voice never does quite match the suit.

You don’t look like the type who has a lot to spare, yet whether for a friend or a stranger, the coffee is always on you.

Your name is D***, I think you said? You fix roofs and you prefer to wear a hat; I can tell. You tip so nicely, with a wink telling me that I know where that change should go. You’re messy, but a gentleman.

Each time you return, I try to remind myself that the dirt is only earth coating your palms and fingers.

That character doesn’t develop in the shower.


The animal in my apartment

Cats2There’s a stranger in my house.

She’s just as furry as me, but fierce and tiny.

I don’t understand it. All these surfaces, edges and fabrics – I’ve worked for years to claim them; rubbing against them nonchalantly, as if nuzzling instead of conquering territory.

And this little terror comes tearing through each door as if they’re hers!

I try not to shake; not to stumble and retreat. How is something so small so fearless?

I want to fight her off, chase her out of this house – my house – but they seem to really like her somehow. Hello?! I’ve been here for years! I can roll around like that. I can dart across floors and furniture in a furry frenzy. See?

I’m the one who has warmed your bed, kept you company, indulged you so very many photographs.

Yet here she is. All new and shiny, and all of a sudden I’m getting pity pets as if my character is diminished by her cuteness.

I don’t understand it: This stranger in my bed, on my chair. In all my favourite places, I find traces of her there.



The Manhattan man in the sparkly dress

Manhatten SparklyIt’s alright, you can stare.

But not because I asked for it. That’s what people say: that by wearing a blue, sparkly dress, I’m asking for the heat of a thousand eye balls and half as many gaping mouths.

I’m not asking for it. I simply felt like wearing a blue, sparkly dress today. The way you chose your top hat or those designer shades.

I didn’t ask for it any more than a girl in a short skirt asks for whistles and a concern for her safety.

I just hadn’t worn this dress in awhile and it was time to, is all.

Alright, so I otherwise look like a lumberjack with the long beard and the broad shoulders. And perhaps it – to some – makes my dress stand out in starker contrast.

And maybe I don’t mind the looks so much anymore. Over time it becomes easier to ignore a stare or return it, dead on, as long as I can go without blinking because two can play that game.

There was once a time when I shrunk under scrutiny; scurried from the spotlight as fast as I could go.

But not any longer.

So no, I’m not “asking for it” by wearing this dress.

It’s just that it goes so well with my sparkly blue heels. Don’t you think?


Stood up at Starbucks

Stood up at StarbucksShe shivers because it’s cold out and he’s not coming.

Running her hands up and down her arms stops her from grabbing her phone; from texting, or worse.

The saddest part isn’t that he won’t arrive. It’s that she let herself believe he would.

It was supposed to be different this time, but of course it’s not. And now she’s the girl, alone in a Starbucks, trying to hide amongst the hustle; the premature red signage that gets us all in a tizzy.

What if he’s just caught in traffic? It could be a flat tire. Would it be better or worse if he simply forgot?

Her lips tightly clutch one another in an effort to remain quiet. She will suffer alone in silence, slightly comforted by the company that comes with misery: when you’re just detached enough to feel both internal and external to it all.

And of course, it would be snowing. Those flakes that, just last winter, had kissed their squinted lashes, landed on the pillows of their smiling tongues.

Could it have ended differently? She’d like to think so, but it all feels a little too inevitable.

Nothing left to do now but gather her belongings, gather her thoughts, button her coat, and try to walk steadily even as the loneliness begins to drip, drip, drip into her bloodstream. An I.V. of he and what wasn’t meant to be.

She left her hat on the table. A stranger finds it seconds too late; waves and shouts after a car with a loud, sad song thumping through its shell.