Monthly Archives: April 2019

1858 Steinway Square Piano

I am an old piano
Born in Manhattan.
And with barely 70 keys, I still sit grand
But not a Grand Piano.

I’m ornate, it’s true,
And one-of-a-kind.
A gift for a wealthy child at first
But he never played me.
I just sat in the corner of his room and looked pretty.

Over the years I’ve had many homes.
I resided in an orchestra pit for a spell.
In a jazz club too.
Art Tadum played me
And so did Thelonious Monk, and Oscar Peterson.
I sounded lovely for each of them
And always stayed in tune.

Around 1990, I was taken from my home
And placed on the second floor of a school.
And now
I’m barely a piano anymore,
Encased in hard plastic or glass…
Look at me! Look at me!
Play me! Play me!

The Strand Shelving Shift

And I’m still half asleep as the morning bell sounds.
I shower, shave, and make coffee.
Forty-five minutes on the train to Union Square,
where there are too many people sleeping on the ground.

I take myself inside and the store’s still in shadows–
And I’m going down stairs masked from the bit of daylight trickling in,
and my feet move me forward with only their muscle memory.

I punch my time card and gather with the others by the registers–
“Go shelve in the basement,” they say.
“Start with music and dance”
where I know there are oversized books
that mostly won’t fit and will never be sold.
I put them up briskly
to match the breeze from outside
coming through cracks in the ceiling.
I shelve and I shelve and I alphabetize.
And the stench of raw sewage surrounds me.
Management insists that it’s safe to be down there
but I don’t believe them.
Even they know they’re lying.

I’m then told to pull paper for the off-sites.
One in Times Square,
one in Soho,
one in Central Park,
and one in Club Monoco…
Don’t ask me why.
But each will need paperbacks that might sell.
Most are stolen, and by employees as well.
I never did,
And I never would.
Though I certainly could’ve.

A three hour morning,
then I take my fifteen.
I drag down a cigarette.
Strand is open now
And already bustling.

The afternoon comes and I’m at info ’til four
when I can leave and go…
Anywhere at all.
But I go home to read
And hang out with my person.
And hum past some hours ’til sleep.
I work again tomorrow, but I close.

His Bedroom and Its Closet

Three pairs of shoes, and a rotating fan
Six dusty photographs, two broken lamps
A leash for a dog
A string for a cat
Three overdue library books
And three more
In three days
Due back
There’s a comb he’s forgotten ’bout–
He’s balding, it’s true
And he wants some more records
Though there’s stacked, sixty-two
There’s a mountain of books
On the shelf above those
And he’s read only some of them
But nobody knows
They think he’s well read
But maybe he’s not
Still, the closet door’s open
It can’t close
It cannot

Yes, his closet is strapped
With laundry stacked high
Too late for the Laundromat
It closes at nine
No wonder his closet
Is needed this list
It’s bulged at the seams
Like a rodeo twist

And outside his closet
Is tethered and crawled
With a bedroom so tiny,
There’s carpeted walls
More books on the windowsill
He’s reading all those
He wants to be tidy
He’s close
He’s almost

The Greatest Album of All Time: The Stage Names by Okkervil River

Our life is not a movie or maybe. Beyond what contrives to be able to be a cold wreck of dawn when the cities were towns. Just forget what’s begotten aloft and brought down.Unless it’s kicks you gave me. Unless it’s tricks you played me. Unless it’s patter with the crowds. Unless it’s mixed to shame me. My goodness. Is there a hand to take hold of the scene? Or are we wilting on the screen? Or are we tilted on a dream? It’s always complicated. Never orchestrated.

But I find myself in Georgia or Carolina in my mind. Savannah smiles either way, and pulls the veil of night over my canopy drifting, and shifting all the time. Plus ones would fade the mystery, and then knowingly move on. And a girl in port could use no sorely advocated mile, but a shortening of choruses belie a frightened pornographic panic, yeah you can’t hold the hand of a rock and roll manic. With the stage names all embarassing, you dribbled for the chords. To title track John Allyn Smith would have him raise the sails forever off to other shores in some form or another, I’m sure.

What Work Might To Do You

Work might get in the way of resting on your laurels.
Work might take your hangover sideways toward illness.
Work might play with its guns as you’ve cleaned out the sheets.
Work might pace around screaming “more socialist seats!”
Work might leave you in stitches, and cry out, “you fool!”
As you waltz passed the fire escapes
With their smokers out too,
And their plants half-forgotten but flourishing.
Work might make you wish all the wishes were promising.
Tripped passed the overcoats
And spilled on the lawn,
Work might pay you in share-holds and bonds.
Work might look you dead in the eye
And call you by name
And treat you like family
Like you seemed not the same
As that work which lies to you,
Feeds you on sin
‘Til you’re up-selling customers
Who’ve just barely come in.
Yea, work can be meetings
And work can be lunches.
Work can be tests
That you’re failing in bunches.
Work can be fulfilling
But equally not
With exhaustion so telling
You’ve nearly forgot.
Work can be fancy.
Work can be plain.
Work can be fun.
And work can be lame.
Work can be utterly crying and terse.
And without it, you’d starve
So it could always be worse.