Sunday, August 3, 2014

the politics of not giving up your seat
to a little kid on the subway or bus

my advice is to keep your head down
when the walking abomination enters
your line of sight
read a book if you have one
or if the little bastard starts moaning and wailing
about having to stand for his one stop
listen to music on your fancy device
play a video game or pretend you’re meditating
stretch your legs and wince
tell the man sitting next to you that it’s a war injury
you’ll find at least three people willing to call you a hero
and give their seat to you even though you already have one
act like the fake pain in your leg is a genetic defect
it’s not like you have to wear a handicapped sign
when you’re sitting on the subway or bus
(at least not yet anyway)
whatever you do don’t feel bad
it’s a kid for christ’s sake
they cry for sport and can’t color within the lines
they can’t even articulate their emotions or thoughts properly
remember that one day this kid will probably be your boss
tell yourself that you’re just doing the lady next to you a favor
by not letting the child sit next to her
she’s busy with the new york times anyway
and it’s not like anyone else offered to get up
know that you’re still a good person
even if the kid ends up falling on the floor
rolling from one end of the train car to the next
while his mother frantically chases after him
as if he were a dollar bill blowing in a breeze
you’ve given up your seat for plenty of people
the sick and the old
women that you were almost sure were pregnant
the occasional hot chick who’s just not hot enough
to have someone else pay her freight
look at the kid’s mother
nod and empathize with her plights
as she struggles to pick her son or daughter
off of the piss-stained floor
be sure to tell them to have a nice day when you depart
because it’s not only polite
but it’s the right thing to do.


where have you gone eddie murphy?

up to cartoon donkey heaven?

hiding away in a bubble hill mansion
of the mind?

on some film set in l.a.
waiting to drop another cinematic turd
on your old fan’s heads?

i remember when you were the baddest motherfucker
to stroll across the stage

the thing is…do you?

ten years old and getting up in the middle of the night
to watch delirious

trying not to piss myself while my parents slept
then sleeping through school the next day

eddie, the way you made Mr. T look
man, i could never watch the a-team
with a straight face again

eddie murphy, every white suburban mom’s nightmare
on a hot summer day with the ice cream song

i don’t know a drop of shakespeare
but goddamn it, man
there are entire bits from raw
that this pool fool can recite by heart

where have you gone eddie murphy?

knocking up spice girls and hiding behind prosthetics
another beverly hills cop movie in infinite development

i think of those years buying used vhs copies
of 48 hrs., trading places, beverly hills cop
and the golden child

hoping that the pimple-faced fuck
working the video store counter wouldn’t give me shit
hiding the movies underneath my bed
like illegal contraband

eddie, i suffered harlem nights for you

i did it for jasmine guy too
and now she’s gone as well

i even bought both your shitty albums
i don’t want to think this has all been a waste of time

can’t you see we need you?

it’s not just the tranny prostitutes on sunset boulevard
who want you back

what’ll it take to get you to make another classic?
five million?  ten million?
fifty-percent of the profits on another hit?

if we could just get you up there on the silver screen

think coming to america, boomerang,
robin givens in a horizontal position

eddie, whatever it is that you need
just come on and give us something new laugh about?

bill cosby is still out there
he’s having a coke and a smile

so go on and dust off that purple leather outfit
and take it out for spin

i’m sure it still fits

hit the comedy clubs and give them all a scare

eddie, stand under those hot white lights
and tell us a joke or two
then turn to the crowd and do that magical laugh

make this tired, cruel world
bust its big fat gut


porphyria

the doctor told my girlfriend
that she had porphyria
i don’t remember which doctor
because there were so many of those quacks involved
checking her blood and her urine
digging through her bloody stool sample
the same one she’d made me view that morning
while she writhed around in pain on her bed
i’d never heard of porphyria
i was worried that it meant pregnant in greek
i was just twenty-one and i was going to bars with my friends
i knew what alabama slammers were
i knew who sold watered down drinks
i knew that a club full of women gyrating to tainted love
was the closest that i was ever coming to heaven
my girlfriend was still twenty
this porphyria outbreak seemed to coincide with my birthday
it kept me from going to more bars and clubs
it kept me in her bedroom on friday and saturday nights
listening to her horrible music
as she and her mother read medical brochures to each other
like they were reciting wordsworth
porphyria caused my girlfriend to quit her mall job
so i was back to paying for mexican dinners and shitty movies
porphyria never seemed to affect her appetite or bad taste
to me the disease meant selfish bitch
at least in english
i wanted to get the hell away from her
but i felt like such a heel leaving in her time of need
so i stuck around
as did porphyria
the sickness lasted all spring and summer
then it seemed to magically disappear that fall
right around my girlfriend’s twenty-first birthday
on a night she met me at the door
full of color and glowing like she hadn’t in months
to announce that she was cured
and would soon be able to come to the same bars and clubs
with me
the porphyria is gone, she said
yes, yes, i answered, hating her anew
and soon baby, soon so will i.


crossing abbey road at forty years old

it’s a beautiful day
only there’s this guy at the famed crosswalk

he’s got a tweed blazer on
and he’s wearing his abbey road t-shirt
like that guy who wears the band t-shirt
to the same band’s concert

his wife looks pissed
because he keeps directing her on how to cross the street

how wide her gate should be
how far apart her arms should swing

like mccartney, like lennon
do it like them, he’s shouting across the street

there are a number of people waiting to do the same thing
rainbows of flesh and blood from all over the world
trying to get to that other, magical mystery side

the cars are patient enough
i mean no one honks at the horde like they would in america

my wife and i are waiting at abbey road
to get to the other side to look at the graffiti
scrawled on the walls of the studio

we don’t need the photo op

we crossed abbey road five years ago
and it wasn’t the enlightened experience everyone claims it to be

i’ve had much more in the way of visionary moments
just crossing the street to buy a six pack of beer

but it would be nice to pause and stop for a picture
just to ruin tweed blazer’s fashion spread

have a laugh when he makes his old lady cross the street yet again

but she’s given up anyway
she’s sitting on a bench by the bus stop having a smoke
while other people are checking their cameras
to see if they got it all right

tweed blazer keeps screaming at her to give it another go
like george harrison, he says  like ringo

she tells him to go to hell then checks her phone
so he takes a picture of the famed pavement instead

and when my wife and i cross abbey road
she sneaks a picture of me
making musical history with a dozen others

my tired eyes and drunkard’s slouch
snapped for posterity

that fab, fat forty year old belly and all

John Grochalski