It isn’t much just to look up and see the stars.
Then again, I suppose there is a time
when we were young.
There was a time when we were free
to feel the adrenaline of a midnight hour,
which is when the night was only beginning.
You could feel it too – coming on
like a storm that can’t be stopped
and like the first rain drop
you knew the rage was about to pour.
Soon enough the night was bound to happen
and to be clear about it;
this was perfect.
There was a time when young adulthood
seemed invincible, which I remember clearly,
yet my memory fades to put the right places
with the right faces.
I remember driving into the City.
We were about to be crazy with a car full of people
approaching the Queensboro Bridge
from the Long Island City side.
The fuse had yet to be lit
but the anticipation of the explosions were there,
on-time, and waiting for the light to strike.
I remember the sign
which stood high above the East River
before crossing into the City
which read, “Perfection is not an accident.”
I remember the neon lights from the sign
and the glistening lights
from the City-life on the other side of the bridge.
I remember this as a precursor of the evening
which was about to unfold.
I remember my long hair,
which grew down to the top of my shoulders.
I had a few silver hoops for earrings in my left ear,
a thin silver chain around my neck
and a black collar spread open
across the lapel of my black jacket.
I remember the adrenaline.
I remember the sexual tension and the revolution
which was about to take place.
I remember the places.
I remember the poses I chose
and the way I stood, leaning against the wall,
with a cigarette gangling from my mouth
trying to pull off my best approach
or at least my best appearance.
I remember the feeling I had.
Or wait, no.
This was more of a connection
or an established feeling or association,
to which I wanted to be . . .
associated and connected.
This is when my dreams
evolved into different versions of raw emotion.
This is where I went
raging through the streets of New York City
and eager to see it all.
To tell you the truth, I’m not sure if I saw it all.
But I can say that what I saw was perfect.
I can say that I have been to halls and venues
and shows where people danced and swayed
and grinded against each other.
I saw all types of chaos in both beautiful
and violent forms.
I saw the rich and the poor.
I saw the famous and the humble and sometimes,
I was around to see the famous become humble.
The City is a teacher.
I know this because
she’s let me stay after class a few times
to learn my lessons.
I was there to see the young debutants
who came in from the bridge and tunnels
or from the wealthy outskirts of the City.
They came in like little queens
to define their future princes
and mock the local peasants until –
they drank too much
And . . .
by the end of the night,
I saw them on the ground with ripped stockings,
their tiaras tilted to the drunken side,
mascara running down their faces
and vomit stains on their pricy little dresses
or their fashionable outfits.
Meanwhile, the places or the corners
where they fell to the floor
are the same corners
where the homeless lived – to which.
the previous queens took notice
with finger pointing and laughter.
But this was at the beginning of the night.
This was before the prom queen’s demise,
before the shots and drinks took hold,
yet there they were, all the social pretties,
laying in the same urine soaked places
which they made fun of
at the beginning of the night.
I was walking by Grand Central one night.
Or maybe it was more like morning.
Either way, this was the end of a night to some
but the beginning of the day to me.
I had grown since my nights
of wild and remorseless trips into the City.
In fairness, I had become
what I’d sworn that I’d never be – an adult.
I was walking to work before the hour of 5:00am
when I noticed the drunken debutants
and their pretentious young princes.
They were waiting for Grand Central to reopen.
A man with dark skin and somewhat of a big,
hulkish figure stood near one of the doors,
asking for money and begging for his daily bread.
The young, out-of-town princes
thought it was a good idea
to laugh and make jokes.
The homeless man decided not to play quite as fairly.
“Do you live in a big house?” he asked the group
One of the young princes answered, “Yes, I do.”
“Well, it’s not bigger than my house!”
““You don’t have a house” said the young man
“What are you talking about?” said the young man
“You don’t have a house!”
The man from the streets decided to set the ante.
He went all-in, right away and said,
“You’re in it, Mother Fucker.”
He said, “These streets are my house.”
“And I can show any one of you
exactly what they means,
anytime you’re ready.”
Funny . . .
No one in the group
wanted to laugh or pick on the man after that.
And their faces . . .
They took on a shade of fear.
Their bravery seemed to evaporate
and their smiles took an awkward change,
as if to say, “Please help me!”
I have seen memorable things in this City
and I say this as a humble reporter
of both incidents and accidents.
I suppose the reason that She and I
(the City, I mean) coexist well together
is because I respect her from the Avenues in Alphabet City,
to Stuy-Town, to SoHo, Tribeca,
Uptown, West or East side, the Bronx
and yes, I have memories of Harlem,
both good and bad,
and both desperate and fortunate.
I can say that I have lived here,
in which I can say that I am not a senior citizen
not by any means
but I am old enough to understand the rules
such as watch out for the unexpected
and watch how you treat people.
The City loves to serve karma.
Come to think of it,
I miss that sign at the Queensboro Bridge.
Perfection is not an accident.
Neither is fate.
My City taught me that
And for the record, so did you.