GEORGIA MORNINGS, by Puma Perl

The young man never stopped smiling,
as he described his Georgia mornings,
filled with reefer and medication.

It took my mind off the troubles
in my mindhe explained, handing
me a thick ream of papers.

T-cells, viral loads.

He watches television all day.
Likes the science fiction channel best.

We retest him, a formality. Nothing
will change except the protocol.

He leaves for the day, still smiling.
It’s the first time he’s ridden the N train
by himself. He says he’ll be okay, make
it safely back to Brooklyn.

If he has his way, he’ll never see
another Georgia morning.

three poems by Puma Perl

keep digging

dig we must
to serve you
better and better
con ed declared
between black-outs
dog executions
15th floor heart attacks
dig we must

dig we must
to throw words down
somewhere, who cares
there are millions
of poets
billions of words
“spoken word artists”
me, i just write shit down
twitch all over the stage
go home and eat

i look around
i write it down
hoping my head
will empty itself
of enough garbage
so I can sleep
it’s all a survival mechanism
really

dig we must
i found
bloody bandaids
rusty bobby pins
used tissue paper
dried up mascara
green apple cores
shit- like gumballs
corn and raisins
empty spaces
where I live

i only think

i only think of you when i drink coffee
i only think of you when i lock the door
i only think of you on f trains
i only think of you on highways
i only think of you in the morning

i am not obsessed
i don’t remember your face
I think your eyes are blue
and your nose
is too big for your face
i don’t think of your lips
or tongue
i only think of you

i only think of you when the phone rings
i only think of you when it rains
i only think of you at midnight
i only think of you in bookstores
i only think of you on the bridge

i lay in bed
windows open
as i was
to the idea
of you
lights bounce
into glass
slide through
facades
dissolve
into rivers

you were hiding
in rainy midnights
on highways
concealed
on morning
trains
the you in you
trapped screaming
inside
the idea of you

i never say your name

i will not get up at 5 AM

i will not get up at 5 AM
i’m afraid i am
my father
in his bathrobe
sitting at the table

coffee perked at 4:30
his shaking hands held the times
he read every new york word
he crossed his surprising shapely legs
delicate ankles exclamation points
placed upon worn terry cloth slippers

his despair was patient
watched him work each day
in his flannel shirts, black shoes
he opened a store, named it “hi-ho”
he wanted something cheerful

sometimes his hair curled
at the back of his neck
my mother yelled at him to shower
his sad smell his only answer

other times he sported crewcuts
white shirts, cuff links, bowties
walked late into the night
his head bursting with ideas
sleep laughed at him at dawn

finally, surrender
coffee perked at 4:30
he crossed his ankles at 5
sat at the table with
his head in his hands
twenty years passed…
whenever i saw him
he’d smoke three cigarettes
and tell me to go home

on father’s day
i walked the streets
where he was born
avenue c, east fourth
i bought an icey
from a man on the corner
“feliz dia del padres”
i said, for my father,
for his 5 AM coffee
for the extra tamarindo syrup
on my piruaga