Monday, February 29, 2016


by chuck leary

illustrations by konrad kraus

once, i walked down a dark street filled with flowers

all the flowers opened, and spiders crawled out of them

i tried to love the spiders but could not

in despair that i did not love them the spiders turned into butterflies and flew away

leaving me alone in the street which was also my lonely room

but who was i?

i tried to remember but all i could think of was turtles

i leaned out the window but i leaned too far and i fell out

i didn’t have my key in my pocket - it was the first time i had ever been outside without it

everybody knows me, i thought. they will let me in even i don’t have my key

the landlords were piling up my things

all my books and sacred manuscripts from samarkand and tibet and eddie’s deli on west 44th street

i told them there was no sense piling them up because i couldn’t fit them all in my suitcase

i remembered the old days on market street

eating hot dogs and french fries with jack and arthur before the barbarians came

and sometimes even corn on the cob - in the shadows of the market street cinema

we each had a little notebook

mine was blue, arthur's was red, jack’s was crocodile green

jack wrote a poem about the market street cinema

“the floors soft as pancakes with syrup on saturday morning”

arthur wrote one too - “the only man in the audience without a tattoo”

as for me, i was terrified of the market street cinema

even though i knew the red ants and demons of my childhood would never return

any more than the white wings and eyeballs of the million forgotten gods and archangels

we waited through a thousand foggy dawns for angel and abdul and the sailor to show up

and they finally did, along with the prophet and percy and the inspector

who told me many wise things all of which i have forgotten

words are not water, but they can’t float

revolutions come and go like jacks of diamonds

but the queen of spades is still standing on the corner

the cigarette shakes in her hand but the squad car rolls by

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