When They Ask About Your Summer

Tell them you ate three kinds of dark

Chocolate. Tell them your favorite contained

Sea salt and toffee and cost you $16 dollars

To snatch from the snack basket at the hotel.

Tell them how you let the squares melt on your tongue

While sitting next to a heavy set man breathing

Heavy on a train after 1a.m. while two sisters drank

Pepsi and made small talk so quiet and easy

You couldn’t begrudge them for keeping you

Awake. Tell them you took the subway at 2am

Then walked home alone at the skunk hour

And that you realized all the drunks 

Were more afraid of you and that the grinding wheels

Of your pink suitcase may as well have been tanks

Rolling through.  Tell them how you went to a wedding

Alone and that your whole family was there.

Tell them how the bride cried through the ceremony,

How she cried right through her silk gown

And that she washed the hall with her tears,

And tell them that she was the most honest bride

You have ever seen, ruining her makeup as sail boats

Lazed by in the harbor.  When they ask about your work,

How it’s going, tell them a person needs to lie

Around a lot in order to remain sane. Tell them this,

And then ask them a question or two that will slip

Through the worm hole in their gut and poke

A pinky through to see if the answer is true.

Train. Digital photo. 2014.

Train. Digital photo. 2014.

My Writing Process Blog Tour – (Unauthorized) Continuation

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5. Why do you write poetry?

On my way to a friend’s backyard BBQ party in Bed-Stuy, I saw a stoop sale. About five or six people sat or stood around the shady street, drinking and chatting. The Yo! MTV Raps™ trading cards caught my eye, and I picked out several: Big Daddy Kane, Run DMC, Public Enemy, and two variations of Vanilla Ice.

Then I saw the KISS Pez dispenser.

Image

I cannot hum a single KISS song. Still, I was mesmerized by the small, face-painted plastic man. What is it about his face? Why can’t I place this particular mix of desire and dread?  Just then, the proprietor of the stoop sale, a young man who was either a banker, an actor, or a lawyer, directed my attention to a giant Pez dispenser in the front garden. It was Yoda. His pointed ears spanned about twenty inches, and his army green body matched the grass.  The Yoda Pez dispenser transcended my nostalgia. There was no story, no meaning, just the feeling of a door creaking open.

But I didn’t have time for Yoda. I was headed to a BBQ. I bought all four members of KISS Pez. They now sit on a small side table. Eventually, I’ll get tired on them and then I’ll have to write the poem. I’m disappointed that they only date back to 2012 and that people are selling them on eBay for seven dollars. I paid two.

Still, I do love the quiet, sad expressions worn by the “variable,” non-Gene Simmons band members.

KISS

Ten people have played in the band over the years.  I wonder, were the other band members ever jealous of Gene Simmons’ special make-up? Or that he could stick out his tongue that far?

When I left that stoop sale, I passed by some old folks sitting on lawn chairs a few doors down. They were a part of the original neighborhood, pre-gentrification, and had been watching the stoop sale unfold. A woman called out to me as I passed: “Did you see the Yoda?”

I felt annoyed, and didn’t want to think about Yoda. The giant Yoda PEZ was outside of nostalgia, in some unknown, explored place. “Yes,” I said, and hurried away.

other kiss members