VALENTINE ON 109TH STREET
The memory of bean soup to the man
shaking on the supermarket grating.
Or the stream of blue buses in icy
fluorescent glare, exhausted and empty
on Broadway at night. Why not the ticket
taker in her glass cage, lipstick trembling
around a cigarette of fives and tens?
Any cliché will do for me now, asleep
at the wheel of my life, drugged by the cure
that is the disease, on the hazy couch,
saying prayers for Wilby’s Bar & Grill, torn
down for condos, prayers for all small buildings
imploded and replaced, for all people
on the bayonet-end of elections
in those tired countries the news does not want
to understand. Leap
of faith. If I fell
off the couch, a sliver of floor might pierce
my forehead and change my channels for good.
I ponder the resiliency of foam,
the life expectancy of an old stained
Turkish carpet, the steady spray of cathode
ray. I have produced nothing to consume
for more weeks of this winter than I care
to count. Such ethics blur into distant
maps of intrigue and escape. This feeling
of hollow, of lonely marrow and wounded
tongue, is not the only goddamn reason
for a valentine, but there is no better,
when she comes to me, eager in her bones,
holding up the day with her soft, large hands.