Tag Archives: love

For a Second I Thought I Was Mahler

DLK as Mahler

Stepping back in the room, I caught myself 
Frozen
Like a cat burglar who had lost his cool
And for a second I thought I was Mahler —
Perhaps it was my high forehead
And my reversed sloped hair
As if my roots were growing out of the crown of my head and up backwards
Towards the sun (or the Aliens who had neglected me)
I was disappointed to not have looked like Prince
But maybe that’s the price you pay
For living past the age you wanted to die at
I thought I knew that profile anywhere, having seen it stretched across the banner of an old friend’s door 
He was a classical musician
and loved all things sad
 
He would play Elgar on a piano
and insist that it sounded better without an orchestra,
We traded stories of madness and caught each other once again
years later when we both did our stint at Paine Whitney
Our vitals were low, we were anemic, we were angry, we were young
 
And once when I stepped into the sun, my wife cried
And when I asked her why
She said I reminded her of something she had forgotten about in her heart
And while I was hoping it might have been Prince or some rock ‘n roll revolt 
That jarred her memory —
It was the moving shadow around my head, landing into the new apartment we
had just rented —
 
And I cursed myself as I heard our new neighbor jerking off his new leaf blower 
in a coarse Sunset Park afternoon up on the highest hill of Brooklyn where some 
Rich and poor are now living closer and closer —
 
I heard the faint notes of a symphony spilling out of a broken heart. 

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A Message on 125th Street, Harlem NYC (2011)

A Message on 125th Street, Harlem NYC (2011)

She was a quote whore and had legs like a seagull, beautifully bent as if awaiting take-off, eager to follow the visiting ships. We’d wheeled hypnotically for hours at a time once before in different corners of the world, often flapping in a cul-de-sac of frustration. I had learned of her through a truncated message tossed from a virtual skyscraper and tried my best to reciprocate.

I’d spent the better part of my life on the wing, but my wandering had slowed when too many of my fellow searchers were snared in world wide webs devoted to no one but the faceless spirit of the machine.

She sat like a beautiful Spider Monkey cross-legged on volcanic stone, waiting at the wall.
I caught a glimpse of her from above and behind, through the scalding chinks of the coppers’ chains and the dimmed windows of their Chevy Impala. There were crumbs and old newspapers and a crushed coffee cup kept rolling back and forth under the passenger seat. They picked me up for rolling a cigarette outside of Central Park – I wasn’t even smoking, I was just rolling it. They said I broke the law and was loitering and would have to be booked and they said they had witnesses. They drove around for a while and went back to the park entrance where they snagged me. My cigarette was still on the cobblestone. They asked around if anyone had seen me rolling the cigarette. The hotdog vendor just stared at them. He must have thought it was funny.
They shoved me back in the cruiser. Now they were pissed. They drove a bit, then laughed as they blared the siren and slapped me around a bit. I wanted to fight back — but if my fury had gotten the best of me I’d never make it to the wall.

They beat me so badly, a couple of the dead mariners’ souls’ tumbled out of me spilling onto the corroded seats of the car. I began to wonder if they would turn my feet into tobacco pouches.

— from “The Albatross Wall” (2009)

The Albatross Wall

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A Loser Can Surely Find Time For Love

Poison 42 - A Loser Can Surely Find Time For Love (Dennis Leroy Kangalee) by Nina Fleck
Before that I thought I was just another waking asphalt animal perched on his shaky brick-limb trying to do what it is that rats do to stay alive.

The rats are the true underground.

Hamptons in Harlem.
Condos creeping.
My belly is torn asunder.

They’ve pulled apart the letters of alphabet city.
Don’t mind me–it’s just my feet are getting wet and I never realized I could swim. The Mets are Citibank pets in steel cages.
Plastic surgeons from the west coast have brought their palm trees with them, they’ll be importing the rest of the emptiness later.
They’re sending me to the outbacks, the caves in the dunes where books meet man and clean hands are an ideal to achieve.


Losers
Like Loners
Make the
Best
Lovers.
They have so much to give.

They don’t need me here. Give me my apocalypse and ship me out soon.

I am not sure how long I can carry this battery.

*
originally published in the Lower East Side BOOG City poetry journal, Summer 2012
& included in the chapbook “Lying Meat”

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Sarah & Cecil Stole Romeo & Juliet’s Getaway Car

“Tramps For Life, episode 3”
(Or: Even Rebels Get Sad When They Have to Be Bad but all in all there’s nothing worse than having Jungle Fever on the road, broke and homeless, and trying to up the ante)

N.Fleck/D.Kangalee, 2006

N.Fleck/D.Kangalee, 2006

— heard.
Outside,
the cold rain
pours down
and beats
relentlessly
upon the roof of the car.
The car that is not yours.
And your homeless heart flinches in that way only a newly-dispossessed person’s heart flutters and aches and cold-lip-dry-mouth-cracked-chapped hands open the passenger door, but you notice – on the floor, under those worn out boots barely covering your feet which you are nervous has caught an infection – a text, a crumpled magazine…and the printed word on that filth, the alignment and the rhythms, calm you…Because they were written by someone even more destitute than you and you no longer have to dread and shudder your way three stops on the N train amidst Hipsters who come from some place no real New Yorker has ever heard of, and yet your ignorance bounds you…But you read the text and you realize it is just the thing to read when you are in someone else’s bathroom and the floor is cold and you cannot complain because it is not your home, and you wonder where your home went and how it came to…
*
You tried.
You did everything possible without breaking any laws, yet every moral code that you ever tried to live by has been left shattered and torn.
Your reputation – skids marks under Cassio’s heel; your name has been warped and twisted like the heart of a Judge who refuses to resign.
You ask yourself why? And you see fleeting images of who you could have been and phantasmagoric duplicates of you and your lady and yet you wonder…what was the sin?
Like the disabled and the forsaken, you, too, cast an eye up to the sky in hopes of an answer…There is no answer. The answer was known, was given – long ago.
And it is not his or her or their fault.
It is some
perverted
joke.

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Sandpaper Tongue

“It’s not that I dislike children – it’s what they might become. If I had to bear witness to my child’s lack of success I’m not sure I’d be able to handle it. I barely handle my own.”

She laughed, she thought he was being cute. But there was nothing cute about his situation. There was nothing cute about being caught, once again, in the rut trying to keep up, stay sane. He was beyond trying to be witty and he saw nothing admirable or clever about his choice of words or how coolly detached she thought he was. He was not cool and not detached and there was no pose he could stand.

All the armor, all the powder from his make-up had been removed, the streaks of paint had left his soul just slightly bare as if a cotton round dipped in witch hazel had wiped across the face of his soul leaving him cleanly exposed but less raw and agitated. All he could feel now was great remorse for everything he had not accomplished, a peculiar sadness – but not one that could erupt in tears, but rather a frozen gloom that clung to his face like a hockey mask, weighing his temples, the bridge of his nose, and the folds of his chin where all the despair had curled up like a cat preparing to die.

He felt nothing except for the dry sandpaper of his tongue.

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All Trees Have Wombs

All trees have wombs

All lovers have time to choose

The death that they can put in their shirts

And iron out in the morning.

*

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Henry O.Tanner's "Thankful Poor"

Henry O.Tanner’s “Thankful Poor”


*
The General’s son studied the picture with the patience and skill of an art expert, gliding his hand over Nancy’s crayon streaks of torture and sentiment.

“It’s Bruno,” he finally said, putting the picture down. And he rubbed his eyes the way he’d seen the General do or the way adults do when they remove their spectacles.
“Who? The bear?”
“Yeah. He was a bear in the forest. They called him Bruno and he returned to the area for the first time in over a hundred years…and they shot him.”
“What!?”
“Yup. I saw it on the news on Wednesday. After we had dinner in the rec room.”
The General started to pace. “They killed – ”
“They shot him, General. As he was bathing.”
“Perverts.”
“What’s a pervert?”
“Someone who shoots bears.”
“Have you ever shot a bear?”
“Do I look that sick to you?”
“I’m sick. Maybe I’ll kill a bear, too.”
“Never. I wouldn’t allow it.”
“Why do they kill horses?”
“Cause they can’t shoot artists.”
“What?”
“They starve ’em instead.”

— excerpt from my 2006 novella, Where Ladybugs Go to Die

Where Ladybugs Go to Die

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On Compassion

The greatest act of compassion you can do is remain beside someone who doesn’t stand a chance in the fight that they are up against. But you comfort them, you give them some kind of grace in their knowing that they are not alone and will not be betrayed. It is more than unconditional love. It is spiritual camaraderie. And it exceeds the unconditional because in all contexts you do agree with your friend, but you know that you are both grievously outnumbered.

That is love. That is romance. That is compassion. That is purity. In all of this, there is an element of art, God, and justice all entwined.

Even if you don’t believe in any of them.

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Assassination of a Flowerbed

He begged her to help her daughter. She’d consent if he’d never show his face again; she’d explain his death/disappearance & pay for the mock funeral. They shook hands, but he never signed the contract. Withered now like a tattered leaf caught in between the rice paper of a well kept poorly read bible. We don’t all have skeletons in the closet it’s the mystery of the matter that lurks beneath our pillows or pockets that scares me. Some forgotten deleted promise in the inbox of…Boredom once scared me: to be forgotten was a fear but what comes close to the assassination of a flowerbed that never had the chance to be trampled by hooves wild & untamed & unaware of the bondage they beat upon?

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