Julie

snow II
I.
Eyes.
When I called them
winterblue, you said,
oh really, the O
a fat bright balloon
twisted
into a curious animal.
Really, I insisted,
and explained
how, when written,
I’d compound
winter and blue,
words holding hands
to get the eyes
just right.

II.
Tongues.
how we taste
our food and air
and language, differently.
Common ground
found in kissing.
(slowmotion
no arms and legs
deepsea
breathing
lost-in-a-pause
or dream)
Tongues wired,
to announce ourselves,
intimately.

III.
Feet in our mouths.
We walk along 18th Avenue, after
a visit to my mother’s house, taking
a tour of the old neighborhood.
I point out the
Italian record shop, allegedly
a front for Mafia activity, and the OTB,
where gamblers rub shoulders
and blow smoke, daily, in the name of
ritual sacrifice,

and there—I point
to the store
with the sign reading
Newspapers/Coffee/Cigarettes/Beer/
Lotto Tickets—
that’s a bodega.
Bodega, you repeat,
and I say, yea,
it means corner store.
Ahh, okay, you say,
then: Beau Degat
in French means
Beautiful Mess.
I fall in love
instantly,

and for the rest of the day
I am obsessed with
Beau Degat,
wanting you to think of
me
as a beautiful mess, a bright
rough patch of grafitti
tagged on the outside wall
of a cornerstore
where you can find
Newspaper/Cigarettes/Coffee/Beer/
Lotto Tickets.

IV.
Sleep.
Lidless. So the dreams
can pass out
and in.
Late-at-night
an easy fingering
of juiced petals,
a tangerine evenly
split.
Emerging from its
veiny navel,
the pale pink
dollop
of slug

trembling
and bare
in its asking.

bedroom eyes
closed
for business,
the parting,
not such sweet sorrow,
but more like salt-cured
pulp.

V.
Skin.
If your superhero
wish came true,
you’d be without skin
and muscle and tissue
and recognition.
The power you dreamed of,
invisibility: Atwood’s force-of-air
that unnoticed
and that necessary.
And for me
it had to be
flight: rare nights
I had experienced
the miracle-thrill
of gliding
over the trees
and streetlamps
and tar-topped roofs
in the neighborhood
where I had grown up,
praying so hard
I wouldn’t wake to find
I had lost
that power
that feeling
once again.

What can I say Julie?
Superpowers are hard to come by.
But I tell you
now, if there was
a superpower-granting
Santa, I’d write him a
damn good letter
and make sure that
one Christmas morning
you’d wake up to find yourself
disappeared.

VI.
Memory.
The 14th Street
hotel room, three days in
December, New York: not Lorca
or Letterman or Sinatra or Warhol—
our New York.

The snowslicked
wide open runway
of Sixth Avenue,
as if, the city, unwaking,
had hit the snooze button
several extra times
that Saturday.

The diner,
born in 1923,
a time-tested
red-stooled
relic with black-and-white
photos of people, I’d guess
family and friends,
hung on the wall
behind the counter.
You won’t find anyone famous
up there, I say, pointing to the pictures.
It’s the uncle and cousin
and everyday Mack
who are famous here.
After our breakfast
of ham, eggs, and melted cheese
on toasted sesame seed bagels,
with coffees, you snap a photo
of me
talking to the heavyset glasses-wearing
owner
about the Giants chances
in the playoffs.

The raccoon,
out of the shadows,
all mask and fur and claws,
climbing the tree in Central Park
at night, as we walked along
and debated about the
ice on the pond,
whether it was solid enough
to skate upon.

Not Woody or Namath
or Whitman or Pollock,

our New York,
with so many oblique turns
and tracks leading back
to memories burned
into fingers
and mouths
and sleep
and tongues
and pulp
and pauses—

our New York,
a mutable alcove
for two,
where high-priority
matters such as
flight and love
and invisibility
would be

openly discussed

before distance
closed in.

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About John Biscello

Originally from Brooklyn, NY, writer, poet, spoken word performer, and playwright, John Biscello now lives in Taos, New Mexico. He is the author of two novels: Broken Land, a Brooklyn Tale and Raking the Dust, and a collection of stories, Freeze Tag. His fiction and poetry has appeared in: Art Times, nthposition, The Wanderlust Review, Ophelia Street, Caper, Polyphony, Dilate, Militant Roger, Chokecherries, Farmhouse, BENT, The 555 Collective, Instigator, Brass Sopaipilla, The Iconoclast, Adobe Walls, Kansas City Voices, and the Tishman Review. His blog--Notes of an Urban Stray--can be read at johnbiscello.blogspot.com. Broken Land, a Brooklyn Tale was named Underground Book Reviews 2014 Book of the Year.
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