Friday, February 28, 2014

from a collection in progress: Brooklyn / Ghost: gone poems on gentrification, leaving and loss

Citation, or safe in Bed-Stuy

Maybe it was the absurd sight of a helmeted man
pissing on a fence.  Maybe, that it was a fence
separating the sidewalk from a playground. Maybe
it was because it was 4AM and everything wrong
happens at 4 in the morning – every dumb story
every fight that ended the night at the club
when I was young and these streets not yet
worth policing.  But the bright eyed fresh cop
boy sliding up to say Hey buddy, must not recognize
I’m twice his age, or that I have my dick
in my hand.  Maybe he and his partner haven’t yet
processed the sleek, white-weeled, bullhorn-handled
bicycle leaned up next to me, before he asks
the next dumb-ass question – didn’t you see us there?
And for two seconds my drunk brain is aflight with
all the unsmart things I want to say
-Yeah I saw you, I wanted to show you my dick. 
-Nah, I didn’t, but I sure am glad you’re here now.
- Yeah I actually was trying to piss on your shoes but I’m too drunk
to aim right,
but only the self-preservation me speaks
- Uhm, no. Of course not.

But the pig won’t relent.  He’s got a treasure trove
of questions like these he saves for 4AM, for
grown black men on Quincy Street,
Bedford-Stuyvesant on the come up
hood type joint while he hoofs
his beat.  You couldn’t hold it, huh?
And I’m worried that there might
be a little smile on my face now – 19
year old wise-ass me showing up late
with cocaine and tequila to fuck the party
up. No, I say. I just couldn’t.

And he and his partner are so not yet
old enough to legally get the kind of drunk
I am right now, but they’re one thumb
nonchalant in a belt, one hand casual
on a service revolver type sure of themselves –
and the one barks something into his radio
and is oinking something about how he could
give me a much worse citation but he’ll let me get off
easy, but you shouldn’t pee in public blah blah blah
like I ain’t been potty trained several years before
his parents even thought to fuck each other.

And the couple that passes by just then, not even
noticing the commotion shouldn’t need to enter
the poem except just ten years ago, the police
wouldn’t be walking the beat here – just cruising
by in squad cars and asking my purple haired
combat boot girlfriend if she was sure she was
in the right place.  But tonight that cop is just
as sure the tittering blondes passing just behind him
are safe because he’s got this under control.

And then, almost silently, a murmuring among them
like a group of Jesuits on the way to mass, ten more
police show up, their shoes not making a sound
and they stand around while babyface runs my ID
and I’m thinking that isn’t it something, this is really
how it’s gonna go down, beat to death by cops
in Bed-Stuy or maybe my life saved by my bicycle
helmet like everyone always says it would, and my
little girl in her mother’s belly still, will never meet
me.  So I try to hold the gaze of the one black cop,
a woman, young, and hope she sees her brother
standing here, or her man, or her father.  But she
looks everywhere except my face, and her thumb
is tucked in her belt too, and her hand, resting on
the 9mm like an afterthought, all of them doing
their jobs, polite and casual – in Bed-Stuy, finally
to protect, to serve.

To schedule a reading or an appearance please contact Ofer Ziv at Blue Flower Arts at 845-677-8559 or email