Johnny the Kid died by a switchblade heart. He stepped as a peacemaker between a nameless feud; then a stiletto cut him deep inside. A darkness seized that night under a blood red moon. He fell to virgin soil, his breath bleeding aside strangers' footsteps. See, Johnny the Kid was fifteen years old and had only begun to dream of a girl. He slept lastly alone on this barren ground. His mother cried for her lost boy. And the imaginary girl: she too slept on bleeding soil. But never she was with Johnny the Kid, a nameless switchblade had cut across her wanting heart.
A Line From Dylan, Sort of Once I lived in another lifetime Where a woman loved me, called my name on a lonely night Then she broke me down as they always do She said: I own your love, so why blog under this rounding sky? I told her I write without malice or pain in my heart But sometimes there's hurt and bliss inside my keyboard soul I'll write for friends, for foes, with enmity and with forgiving words She owned my love and let me go, she couldn't share me with something longer than a brief kiss I thought of her in another lifetime, but I'll write of her no more
It was 3am when ‘Beer Mugs’ Moran locked the doors at the One Lucky. The oak counter had been wiped and shined. The ash trays emptied and polished. The floor swept and mopped. He had done the inventory with an uneasy satisfaction, however. Beer sales had been good lately. But that meant he had to carry more large kegs of draft up narrow stairs and it hurt his shoulders.
This especially bothered ‘Beer Mugs’. He’d get sharp pains that ran from his neck and through his shoulder blades and down into his sides. Sometimes when he twisted his torso slightly there’d be an unexpected twitch of hurt.
The bartender knew he wasn’t as young as he once was. A couple of decades ago he could carry beer kegs all night; bounce tough guys onto the street; clean the One Lucky in a hurry; and then dance late into the morning.
But in the last year or so his temples had turned gray. He had difficulty making a tight fist and throwing a steady punch against trouble makers. Like an aging prize fighter he began to have doubts about his life on the floor. In quiet moments he’d wonder if he should sell the One Lucky to a younger man and leave gracefully. But it was difficult for ‘Beer Mugs’ to admit to his mortality. So he did his best to put these thoughts of old and young men out of his mind.
It took a couple of tries for the lock to close. In the morning the aging bartender would get a can of oil and lubricate the rusty parts. He promised himself he wouldn’t forget to do this as he walked into a cold wind. But at the edges his memory wasn’t what it once was.
He walked out of a picture show. The matinee sun closed his eyes, shuddered only somewhat his imaginary state. Zigman Zibanski saw a movie about the highest mountains to be climbed, the wildest rivers to be swum. The man from the old country thirsted for vodka and walked happily to the One Lucky. His thoughts were of an Everest and an Amazon he should see. But soon Zigman knew his true place and drank some more. That night no mountain could be climbed. So onward he staggered ...lonesome in his matinee of darkness
Youth In long woolen coats we'd wear our youth. Tweed caps atop our heads. Scruffy scarves tucked deeply and tightly against our lion hearts. We were long haired soldiers slouching against the dreaded cold. Sometimes half-drunk we'd congregate around sweet laughter. Speaking of dreams...speaking of girls...speaking of dampened cries of wonder and confusion at what life is. The family wounds gone unsaid. The things we hoped we'd never be. Always the gust of cigarette smoke against our eyes. Cold breath rising, we'd see ourselves as old as winter trees but never understood till now the barren warmth of longing youth.
Belong A hat grows in Brooklyn Under an old L Train track the tourist rumbles His aching body wandering, Manhattan shadows blocking the sun He walks amidst Williamsburg men: Spanish, Italian, Jews in old ways Foreign he feels on snowy streets, the icy sidewalks slipping This New York for the first time he sees, the tenements Greatness Boroughed somewhere deep A hat grows, A tourist grows, An aching body heals He steps in a shop along the rumbling L Train The tourist buys a wool cap that is Brooklyn to native eyes He talks louder, a faster clip as distant men say: You belong
There was a robbery last night. They broke into Zigman Zibanski's small single room, where there was a leaky corner sink.
He owned nothing of value, but a gold picture frame with a photo of his mother. That's what they stole. Zigman felt sad as he turned up the fallen chair and put disheveled clothes into place. He then drank vodka and fell heavily back into bed. When he was especially drunk he thought of his old country and the days behind the iron curtain where the police took his mother away.
This was his secret, of course. He told no one of that time. Even his friends he'd never let inside. He'd only meet them at the front door and then they'd go to the One Lucky and drink. If not for those nights, his heart would leak like a corner sink.
Johnny the Kid had crazy eyes for a girl. He kept them secret, hidden behind Ray Ban shades. For months people would say: "What's with Johnny the Kid? He wears those dark glasses night and day."
Those crazy eyes made him crazy inside. One evening he put on a fancy suit he stole from a store. His shaky fingers knotted a silk tie. He was nervous, for this was the night he'd put his shades aside and knock on the girl's front door.
Her mother answered his call and looked nervous into his blood shot whites. She said her daughter that morning left the Square Corner. Went to the big city to live with her new boyfriend.
Johnny the Kid felt sad. But he felt free, too. He dropped his suit at the steps of the store. He went home and saw the world with new eyes.
New York Story, Another Day Drinking, Eating, Under a moonless sky a cafe bleeds: laughter, thoughtful cries, these words as slashing tongue cuts storied wounds: A tired New York City, like a hero I can't say movies, books, politics best avoided Then we speak the character of man: cynical and loving, we fight some more The touch of drink as lonely voice mixed with bedraggled eyes, we argue on but a skyscraper's whisper: its closing time, 3am Come home again they say and drink with us A New York song I'll play for another day