Monday, 4 April 2011

4/30 - The Airshaft

(Thanks to  Jerry Garcia whose poem Plastic Bottle Vodka inspired me to finish this piece. )


They watched
like we were their Friday Night Fights
our tiny single bed facing the window
onto the airshaft
3 feet from their window
onto the airshaft

a New York summer dripping soot like lust
forcing windows gaping with the hope of breath
The heat so fascist
it had taken away our right to vote and bear arms

they watched us tangle
perched on their sill
unabashedly is too weak a description
they were avid

we atop drenched sheets
could not stand to be under the weight
could not stand to be less than naked

door to our squalid room closed to neighbors
window the only hope of resistance
unable to be less than wide-open
interlocking legos of love
we entertained them

our teen hunger perhaps reminiscent
as we spent ourselves on ourselves
because there was nothing else to spend
pent up and penned

Poverty is a kind aphrodisiac sometimes.

They probably didn’t have a t.v. either;
probably didn’t have dinner either
even a fan.  Air conditioning
is for the Upper East Side.

They had screaming kids likely no green cards
They did not know our language
but our pictures were the same

We were in this airshaft together
suffocating, pores open, sweat-stained
sex the only thing telling us
we weren't dead yet

Like we were Monday Night Football
They watched.  Sometimes as we turned
or as I got up with you streaming inside me
I’d catch her eye.  She would not look away.

We were their Times Square. 
We were enough. After us,
they could go quietly to sleep, I bet
without having to incur more heat
to heap on the wrath of August in Hell.

Maybe you weren’t my first love
just my first tango with squalor
Its scents and sounds intermingled
with the fester of self-sacrifice, devotion,
loyalty beyond self-health and happily ever after

Now so used to these kidney punches of love
I get nervous the morning after
when I don’t piss blood
our rage south of Harlem facing
days with out food to keep the lights on
nights no electricity to share this one box 
of Kraft Macaroni and Cheese for all 3 meals.

It’s what you do.  For love.  On 113th Street.  One August.

You eat mayonnaise sandwiches.
You fuck til you drop.
You let this couple watch across the airshaft
so close you could touch them
without charging them a damn penny
for a fine show.                                 

c. e. amato

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