by Alexa Tirapelli
His name was Bud Hopes, or Lou –
something like that, or what-have-you.
They found his journal in an abandoned barn
among dusty knick-knacks and next to his body,
to which he had done some harm.
They took his book and spilled its guts,
opened it up, invaded a dead man’s thoughts:
I could go into the Abyss
or to a therapist.
I’ve been told these are the two options.
It’s not much, but it’s not nothing.
I go to this coffee place
damn near every day
sometimes to the counter guy
(a nice Australian type) I say:
TWO SMALL BLACK COFFEES
NO, TO GO.
I bring them home
where it’s empty and wholly my own
(no one lives here but me).
But I really fool that Aussie
sometimes into thinking i have
another half to me,
or another place to bring this extra coffee
(i pour both twelve ounces into each other
and make it twenty-four).
we all pretend we’re going to live these long lives,
but maybe we won’t
and we all say we’re happy when we’re probably not
say we’ll push on and put on a brave face,
but we don’t
what makes me less important, for the love of god
there’s something crawling around inside my head
I’M WELL AWARE OF HOW LOST I AM, BUT I THANK YOU
is what I told it, the voice – The Crawly.
I’ve burned some bridges to ash, I am sure.
It’s not like it used to be.
i am right here but i never say it
open another bottle of bourbon
Neon signs curved into words
in bar windows and store fronts
Technicolor lightning strikes along the streets,
we’re east of the Hudson and west of the East.
After the fourth low-end canned beer,
I start to taste apple skins
and begin to straddle a timeline
between kidhood and being adult
Living in a catch-22 city
(by that I mean
I can’t stand living here
but feel I can never leave).
We talk about not having it all figured out
on flea market couches and across coffee tables
covered in ashes and empties.
A yellow taxicab pulls to the side of the street
The snow is wet and heavy
It is March, the lion,
and everyone carries umbrellas for protection.
YOU KNOW WHERE CHERRY LANE THEATRE IS?
the taximan screams out his open window at
a man, mid-50s, in a puffy black jacket
(no doubt worth more than renting my apartment)
IT’S ON GROVE STREET, ISN’T IT? IT’S ON GROVE!
The scene is New York, late winter, bleak
Fat flakes swim to and smack my cheeks
I roll my eyes, I smile, I carry on.
I remember now, I remember why I live here
though I couldn’t explain it again or any better.
I spent the morning masturbating
and playing guitar,
sloshing reheated coffee around
in an old yellow mug,
letting smoke escape
and eating chocolate by the handful.
You ever feel like you’re dying?
I don’t feel much,
but I feel that.
Confused little girl.
Confused little girl.
I touch my face, it grows thin,
I fall into the psychedelic,
melt to music,
then to pale blue tangerine tie-dye sky.
Cold pizza, flat soda.
Mom’s drunk and alone
passed out on the sofa.
Let me paint the rest of the picture
of the way the kid in me lived
when everyone else was looking the other way.
The small crystal vial of vodka
greasy finger marks on the cylinder’s waist
bones gloved lightly by skin
pale and effervescent in morning sunlight.
She bubbles somehow
like something brewing;
An evil monster stirs at evening.
Turn to the cabinets, bare.
She is barely there.
I’ll have cold pizza
and flat soda
until someone notices something.
Turn a handstand on the highway
and headlights become stars in the sky
(when we were younger
we called it the way-high)
The pitch-black slick pavement
of nighttime after a rainstorm
like wet painted walls
or concrete scuffed and worn
I think of you, of that house,
while staring between the tiles
at the yellowing grout
The shower curtain licks my shoulder
Clocks tick in every room
to different downbeats,
Curtains hang at jagged lengths
Chain locks fend off enemy fleets
Baskets rest on cabinet tops
a set-aside, forgotten space
filled with empty woven things,
bug carcasses, and dust cloud lace.
Surfaces like this rip me apart
peel me backwards, bone from flesh
Cut me open with a
smooth-handled hunter’s knife
Peel me away from
the textures of this plain life
About the Author:
Alexa Tirapelli is a bartender in the West Village of Manhattan. She grew up in the Catskill Mountains and currently lives in Brooklyn with her boyfriend and two cats. She is working on her first novel and writing poetry from home. She has been published in Bitterzoet Magazine and the Hudson Valley magazine Chronogram.