Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Two by Puma Perl

nino writes a poem

nino has beautiful lips
anya is his wife
a gorgeous blonde
born in finland
he gets shipments
from India
between deliveries
he hangs out in doorways
sits on the steps
figuring someone
will pass by
usually they do
anya passes the time
she goes to fish markets
makes pasteles
with nino’s mother
bites into mangos
nino complains about
the cost of mangos
anya laughs him off
she never mentions
the price of heroin
she loves him anyway

one hot august day
there was no air
to breathe
no money to make
nino sat in the doorway
it’s 99 degrees he said
it’s 99 degrees
streets are hot
feed off the
dead souls
who walk here
arms bleeding
searing red heat
he stood up
it’s 99 degrees
dope fiends
wear white
on burnt skin
tracks glare
beg for relief
it’s 99 degrees
the drug dealers
went swimming
beaches lie
in foreign lands
dope fiends
stare into
brick horizons
please god
it’s 99 degrees
it’s 99 degrees

nino memorized his poem
recited it all summer
in the bodega
on the cop line
on the step
it’s 99 degrees
please god

in the fall
anya modeled
in japan
nino made deals
that ended in
a german prison
his new york friends
collected money
seven or eight dollars
nino remembered his poem
he wrote stories
mailed them home
when he had stamps
all his friends were animals
in a fairy tale forest
anya was a bluebird
nino was a tree

(Previously published, Brain Box Press, Volume 1, Issue 1)


Baby Brother

He was sitting on a curbstone as I walked by
Baby Sister he called out talk to me please
I leaned against a car that happened to be mine
His skinny black leather legs were folded
pointing here and there like knitting needles
tattoos of stars and demons sprinkled his arms
He spoke to me in Spanish I answered
That issue settled, we were free to return to English
I reminded him of Nancy Spungeon he said
but in a good way, and I was prettier and nicer
He didn’t understand his run of bad luck
He always got arrested for hitting people
His older sister wouldn’t take his phone calls
He wanted my advice, he knew I could help
How could he make up with his sister?
She’s his heart, the only one who still cared
I thought for a minute, posed a question
When you call her, do you ask for money?
Yeah, he said, I gotta go to Seattle and
she’s got money, she works, I’ll pay her back
If you want to make up with your sister
I said, call her and don’t ask for money
He thought for less than ten seconds
I can’t do that, I gotta go to Seattle
We said goodbye very nicely, it was
the day of the HOWL festival there
were lots of people and noise and music
He was still there when I got my car hours later
He was talking to a young guy in a suit
The guy was listening very seriously as I
got in my car, waved goodbye as I drove off
he glanced my way with no sign of recognition

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