one block

by David T. Gay

one block

Nessun maggior dolore che ricordarsi del tempo felice nella miseria. Inferno V

15th between Broadway and X

I walk the route every morning

every evening circle back the same way

but it’s the morning that makes you

flow from the Starbucks

wet as a memory now really as I cross

the rough evil sidewalk where I once fell

when I ran on my way to work

I was late no one cared but my knee

bloomed violets for the rest of my life

after I told you I’d shredded my Dockers

you left work

drove to Target and brought me new pants

another time when I slumped to the grass on 14th near First

I had run out of water you fed me Jamba Juice

I know you love me just as I know

you think you are not special you are special

you think I do not know I do know

you think your secrets make you

undesirable they make you most desirable

you think no one sees who you are inside

what you cherish and fear

I see who you are inside

I see your wickedness

that you cherish and fear

and I too am wickedness

I never told you

like a trembling hand on a bright stage

my motions make an art of confidence

this gesture a masked array of words

I never allowed a storm to shower you

I never told you how when I come

to the freeway where the pedestrian light glows

white one second only

before cars rumble off 15th with Nazi brutality

how one November in the early dawn

I stood at the crosswalk and the world sang alleluia

cars stood up on their wheels

birds chirped proverbs

worms formed ancient haiku

gas fumes became perfumes

everything wrong fixed itself for me with a sherbet glow

a rising sun pulled up by the gravity of my right arm

because I had reached inside you and you were mine

contrast the dark charcoal of the subsequent winter

the last kiss on your bare shoulders

the melody of your voice my Earthly Paradise

became distortion and gray smog for I no longer had you

fuck January

later I found a chick dying in front of the 76 gas station

defenestrated on the cement where countless scoundrels urinate

a wren or thrush

I set it beneath the leaves

did it die or live in its own arcane psalm

and since then I have melted

into other memories I’ve met on that block

out of place in the oil and city grease

the fragile egg

the mantis larva

how could I forget you were the woman who said I am the opposite of boring

you called me your Christian Grey you said making love to me would cure you

of all other men but don’t you think I know there is no cure

you think this is your grand problem to solve but it isn’t

a question of morality or what will come after us in the future

it is the crow in my soul right now

I know why you are I know how to touch you I hold

a red string twined around you

I am just like you and you cannot escape me anymore

than I can escape you for if I unravel the thread

it calls my spirit to coil around you again

now as I watch that pedestrian light

I recall everything in each blink of the crossing signal

all I ask is simply give up everything and love me

make this world into our world

do this and the beauty of both our lives will shine

like the gaudy lights of a Tower marquee

or we can walk a little ways down Broadway and find the other fate

in the yard of italic monuments that stand with cold words

over all the couples who decided this life was more real than love

who never chanced the plunge beyond the jungle cliff into the mist

who when the ground reached up and snatched them by their hair

descended into a common pit of mud and unfilled dreams

a fire cannot hold its breath and stand frozen nor can I

knowing you exist in this life do anything other

than chirp my songs like the wren who’s lost her little one

calling you back to my embrace

oh I burn for you with every pulse