Monday, June 25, 2012

The Walk


The 20 minute 
funeral march for the
rest of my day begins anew
across the East Side
of Manhattan’s thighs
this trip a dirge of sighs
to the comic mine,
the last curls of smoke
from the dying blunt
make for a fitting send-off
with a brief pound
to my friend,
I am at the door.

As my stomach goes Gordian
I rattle reluctantly down
brown iron stairs ringing
with the frustration of
the workward trudge,
heavy and hurried,
I feel the need for quickness,
the kind you need for ripping Band-Aids off
the scabs on your knees,
for ripping eight hours off the forearm
of my life to spill comic scripture
to confused wives
who vie and buy the love of their sons
who summarily settle for matching Spidey
t-shirts for their little squirts
squirming in the aisles
fit to burst like
pink seedpods of greed.

I shake off that scene
relishing the ebbing buzz
of smoked greens and striding
on street thirteen,
the Verizon building
is seen, long and leaning
shadow stretched across Second Ave
a footpath for determined joggers,
brows furrowed these waifs
already dance on the wind
gusting around Verizon,
a phone company canvas
for taggers and their pals
much to the chagrin of Eye and Ear’s
retinal surgeons and masters
of the ear canal
who grimace disapprovingly
from their BMWs
as I casually stroll through a
slew of middle schoolers
careening in a chorus line
up 2nd Avenue.

15 minutes of freedom
dwindling with every
block, the usual cavalcade
of stores unfold before me,
open doorways tell the tales
raw foot banquets,
African statue sales,
the soundtrack of the city
makes a musical backdrop
from the metallic clang of construction
to multitudes of dogs being walked,
behind pastel windows
masseuses knead problems
sitting clenched between
stiff shoulder blades
hair shops bustle,
beauticians busy crafting kinky bobs
maintaining slick black
manes, gleaming with
a sheen one can only describe
as salonyx, elation laughing
around their customers’ cheeks,
they smile satisfied of
their self-servitude
my envy is reflected
in glass frowns as
I resign myself to faster footfalls
god forbid I’m late
and someone can’t find
a back issue,
I muse taking in the
view of NYU
students scurrying,
their freshly bought
school regalia wriggling
across bustling backs and asses,
sophomoric snootiness
wafting off their bodies
like waves of humidity,
bending the air about them.

Five minutes left,
the seconds ticked away
leads me to be
ticked off,
my ire rises crossing
Fourth Avenue,
my stomach a steaming
stew of knots,
two minutes later
the building looms,
beach brown and tall
the windows curtained
and undisturbed to
hide those who can afford
such privacy.

At its base the
store stands,
as I stare back icily
at Forbidden Planet
the nerd facility
gazing upon Broadway
with storefront windows
bearing witness to its
glittering hypnosis,
superhero statues
and Doctor Who
become windowpane sentries
to slow the scuttling millions
to stare hapless at vinyl happiness

I pass,
envious of their place
for I’ve come to the Forbidden gate
which greets me with that
telltale scrape and click
I wince,
A silent Godspeed on my lips.

The first thing I always hear
is the frustration of merchandise,
plastic blister packs crack angrily
against covetous thumbs,
pages rustle with a reader’s desire
to see the comic’s big reveal,
the tape attached to bagged shirts
whines with its plastic peel,
cash drawers slide out and then
are shunted back in,

Planet’s bags snapped and unfurling under
the registers’ repeatedly ringing peal,
stealing my way around
the front of the store
I envy their zeal because
they don’t feel anything at all
much less the stabbing crawl
of nerves jumping down
anxious limbs braced by the blurred
edges of my vision
swimming with mobs of toy grabbers,
co-workers met with cursory nods
and quick briefings about the mood
of the store at the moment
sometimes any prior knowledge
could be potent weaponry
to avoid the wroth any manager’s reckoning.

Internal clock beckoning
I pardon myself through the enthralled
by the Star Wars cases
with backlit Tusken Raider and
obsidian Vader faces, at some points
behind other incoming employees turned
shuffling detainees mouthing pleas
for a calm shift’s ease
fingering their keys
for the back room
to stow their personal things
a squad of understudies for a grand comic play
waiting in the wings
our nerves frayed ready to jump into the fray.

Shrugging off my belongings
in the back room as slowly as possible,
the dwindling seconds of my freedom
being sloughed off my shoulders
along with my sweater,
a frown sets in
my near-gone high
a dissolving tether
to any contact to the outside world,
washing my face and hands in the bathroom
I watch the remnants of the day
swirl into the grimy drain,
face now scrunched in mirror,
etched in fixed disdain.
I stroll out of the back

With a rising step to my left
I creak up the narrow stairway
awash with Street Fighters flexing
to enter the Manga section
taking a second to salute the current
colleague at the register and sign in with
a thumb press across the fingerprint reader,
a hard plastic monitor taped by the T.V. counter
positioned in the left most corner
by the discount non-anime DVDs
Dean Cain cum Clark Kent and T.J Hooker
overlook my logging in from their wire shelf
perches awaiting purchase grinning as
they watch me,
rubbing the side of my nose
and affixing my thumbprint onto
the dull red laser eye fixed in a narrow slit,
beeping as it saves my presence in the store
marked like just another action figure
for sale eight hours a shot
wind me up and I’ll help all
the folks shop or be on the spot
for Family Guy t-shirt swaps.

Below the clock
on the reader displays
4 P.M.
a digital firing pistol
my fingers flex restlessly
stomach shaking to the pit
starting toward the stairs I feel
the insertion of the bridle and the bit.

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