Archive for May, 2008

in the projects

Grown men playing children’s clapping games.

on the subway

He was handsome and his clothes smelled like money, but something was wrong. His eyes were stunned wide open, he never blinked. He had a slight smile that hinted at severed neural pathways, inert violence. He wore a woolen hat on a warm night. He spoke to the backs of the Japanese girls who stood near him, “You’re not listening,” he said, over and over, varying his inflection a little with each repetition.

on the street

He was a bear of a man, in a cheap suit, panama hat, a thug grown older and stouter. His hands were covered in rings, thick gold with stones like Christmas lights. Maybe he thought they spoke to his success, the dollars he had been able to part with. Or maybe he saw a bare truth: gaudy brass knuckles on a man with violent hands.

on the street

His fingers are stiff and splayed at his side. He’s looking all over the place, walking towards me, saying “fuck man fuck man fuck man fuck maaan fuck.” I pass him by, he lets out a wicked cackle and shouts, “that’s a church lunch!”

on the subway

I’ve seen them before. They are old and weathered and small. He has the permanent grin of a village idiot, even his eyes smile. She is stern, stares back at me, officiously rearranges the contents of her purse.

on the subway

First a woman stretched her arms out behind her and groaned a little, releasing the day from her shoulders, pulling her shirt tight across her lovely round breasts. Then another woman shifted her hips and the waist of her skirt slid down past the knob of her hip, revealing a crescent of pale flesh. An Asian man with a boyish face and an elegant suit averted his eyes, shaking his head and smiling with incredulity at these wonders, and how he was expected to act as though he did not see them.

on the street (recalled)

I heard her before I saw her. A little girl alone on the deserted sidewalk in front of a brownstone, with a stack of dusky red encylopedias next to her. She had one volume propped up against her belly, and a humorless intensity in her face. She was swiveling from side to side, showing off her wares and calling out like a sideshow tout: “C’mon get your Book of Knowledge. It’s all in the Book of Knowledge.”


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