Thursday, January 24, 2008

C Train from Chelsea to Harlem

I'm sitting next to my wife with
her bright colored glove on my thigh
and watching

A man in a tailored overcoat,
platinum ring on his hand,
smooth leather briefcase between his legs

A lady sitting
with red, dyed, thin hair and a heavily wrinkled face looking under
her brow and over her thick glasses,
eyes darting back and forth

A pear shaped girl with dark skin huddling behind the collar of her coat,
the hem rises over her hips and she pulls it down,
again and again

A couple snuggling, kissing, giggling --
she has dark long hair and legs and freckles,
he has eyes and hands full of her

A man with chapped, cracked hands holding a trash cart
that's rolling, spilling stench --
he has grey in his beard,
gunk in his hair,
no earphones,
and rhythm in his feet as he cripwalks to no

music but the squeal of the brakes,
hush of the doors,
sway of the car

Sunday, January 13, 2008


"I scared the fly! Scared the fly!" The little girl screams in the booth next to us.

"You're scared of the fly, honey?" the mom says.



"They suck blood."

It was going well when we first entered, Mrs. Okie and I saw a booth available in our favorite section of our favorite diner where we eat the same thing every Sunday, served by the the same waitress who places our order in the kitchen when she sees us at the door and asks me the same question while pouring our coffee.

"With grits or no today, my friend."

"Yes, please."

"Okay, darlings, everything good?"

"Yeah, we're great," Mrs. Okie says.

"Good. And everything else?"

"Yes, thank you," I say.

"Great, good, nice to have good life." She said as she turned away and pulled her black vest down a little over her round backside.

"Jesse called when I was at work last night, he was . . ."

The girl screams about the blood sucker. She's all of three years old. And her mother tries to tell her that "no, those are mosquitoes that suck blood." And the three year-old's big sister, who must be around five, agrees with her sister that flies do suck blood; and the three year-old wails. "Sophie, why did you say that? You're just egging her on," then she rapid-fire pleads, "Ollie, Ollie, Ollie, flies don't suck blood." At first, I think she's going to swear, saying "holy, holy, holy." We're in the back of a narrow isle of parallel booths that ends at a wall with a large mirror. I'm across the isle and watching Ollie's reflection watch herself; she's enthralled and seems to be orchestrating her performance -- when her face cools she increases volume till she's back to beet red. She'd be a beautiful little girl if she'd stop screaming. Her sister is cute too, both are brunette with cherub faces and huge eyes. The mother's at an end, and after getting stares from an elderly couple sitting behind Ollie, she says, "I'm sure . . . you've had kids . . . and they were little, once . . . ." Sophie says mom, mom, mom and wants a trip to some store -- mom doesn't think that's a good idea because she's been misbehaving -- I'll be good tomorrow -- Tomorrow? What about the rest of today? -- Sophie thinks about that -- Ollie screams about the fly -- Sophie starts to stare at the old couple -- That's not polite, Sophie. Look away. Look at the mirror -- and Sophie looks at me looking at Ollie looking at herself -- I smile at Sophie -- she looks at Ollie and back at me and shrugs her shoulders, turns to her mother -- mom, mom, mom, mom -- You think about it, Sophie, I've told you about rewarding bad behavior . . .

Then I'm alone with my wife and breakfast and our waitress comes back.

"You okay? More coffee?"


"You need anything else?"

"No we're great, thanks."

"Good, my friend."

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Slow Walkers

I told my wife: "It's frustrating to walk behind slow walkers. There are only three types of people who walk slowly in New York: children, the mentally ill, and tourists."

Even the old and fat walk fast in New York. And the children don't technically walk slow, they just get distracted and stop and zig zag and detour.

With so little sidewalk space and so many people, New Yorkers just want efficient travel. It's a simple courtesy to pick up the pace.

My wife said: "I know, and what I hate most is walking behind mentally ill, child tourists."